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GT Advanced Technologies Officially Announces Sapphire Settlement With Apple

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Apple and its sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies had reached an agreement to effectively dissolve their partnership and allow GT to shut down operations at the Apple-owned sapphire production plant in Mesa, Arizona. Under the deal, GT will seek to sell off the over 2,000 sapphire furnaces currently installed at the facility, with the majority of the proceeds from those sales going to Apple to help repay $439 million in loans Apple made to help the operation get underway.

GT has now officially announced the deal and published the full agreement, redacting only the amounts Apple will be paid per furnace sold.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, which is subject to approval by the Bankruptcy Court, GT will be released from all exclusivity obligations under its various agreements with Apple. GT will retain ownership of all production, ancillary and inventory assets located in Mesa and Apple is provided with a mechanism for recovering its $439 million pre-payment made to GT over a period of up to four years without interest, solely from a portion of the proceeds from ASF® [Advanced Sapphire Furnace] sales. The agreement provides for a mutual release of any and all claims by both parties. As a result of the agreed upon terms, GT retains control of its intellectual property and will be able to sell its sapphire growth and fabrication technology, including ASF and Hyperion™, without restrictions.
While the two companies are severing their production agreement, they will remain in contact as GT continues its research work

Christian Bale Hired for Steve Jobs Role in Sorkin Biopic Without Auditioning

Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin has confirmed in a Bloomberg interview that actor Christian Bale will indeed star as Steve Jobs in Sorkin's upcoming biopic based on Walter Isaacson's 2011 biography of the Apple co-founder. Bale, who was said last week to be in talks for the role, met with Sorkin but did not have to audition for the part.

“We needed the best actor on the board in a certain age range and that’s Chris Bale,” Sorkin told Bloomberg Television’s Emily Chang on a coming edition of “Studio 1.0.” “He didn’t have to audition. Well, there was a meeting.”
Shooting for the film will begin in the coming months in what will be a challenging role for the established actor. Bale reportedly will appear in every frame of the movie with speaking parts that exceed three movies combined. The movie will focus on three 30-minute scenes that detail three different product launches.

The movie will be released by Sony, with Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle of Slumdog Millionaire fame associated with the

iFixit Tears Down iPad Air 2, Confirms Smaller Battery, A8X Chip, and 2GB RAM

Now that the iPad Air 2 is being delivered to customers and showing up in retail Apple Stores, iFixit has acquired one of the new tablets and has begun one of its traditional teardowns to see just what's inside Apple's thinner, more powerful iPad Air 2.

According to iFixit, the "gapless" front panel is more rigid than previous iPad models, and feels sturdier when it's being pried up with the company's proprietary iOpener. As with all iPads, the glued down display is the only access point to the tablet.

As noted in reviews, the iPad Air 2 has a smaller battery than the original iPad Air, coming in at 27.62 Whr and 7,340 mAh. The first generation tablet had a 8,827 mAh/32.9 Whr battery life.

iFixit's teardown confirms the existence of both the more powerful A8X processor and 2GB of Elpida F8164A3MD RAM, with two separate 1GB RAM chips located on either side of the A8X processor. Based on Elpida's RAM numbering scheme, the "8" located in the second character slot indicates that each chip is 1GB. 2GB on a single chip would be denoted with an "A".

The tablet also has 16GB of flash memory from SK Hynix and the same NXP 65V10 NFC module that was used in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but it does not appear to have an NFC antenna. Apple has said that the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 will not be able to make in-store Apple Pay payments.

The iPad Air 2's Touch ID sensor cable appears to be very similar to the sensor cable found in the new iPhones, and the Touch ID sensor itself was made by NXP Semiconductors. The 8-megapixel camera is similar to the camera in the iPhone

iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 Now Available In Stores via Personal Pickup

Apple's new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 have begun hitting retail stores, as we reported earlier, and the tablets are now available for in-store pickup for a limited number of retail locations that have received shipments. It appears that in-store availability is limited to Wi-Fi only tablets at this time.

Many stores on the east coast of the United States are showing wide availability of both tablets as stores receive shipments and unpack boxes. Availability on the west coast is still limited as it is earlier in the day and stores are not yet prepared to begin retail sales.

Apple store employees appear to be unaware that stores are receiving stock today, as several phone calls placed by MacRumors resulted in responses suggesting the tablets would not arrive in stores until later in the week or early next week.

The iPad Air 2 is still showing shipping estimates of two to four days when ordered online, and some rumors have suggested that supplies are limited, which explains the tablet's quiet in-store release. At announcement, Apple declined to state when the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 would be available in retail stores.

Apple's iPad mini 3, meanwhile, appears to be available in greater supply, displaying shipping estimates of 24 hours. iPad mini 3 pricing starts at $399 for the entry-level model, while iPad Air 2 pricing starts at $499.

While the iPad mini 3 received only Touch ID and a gold color option, the iPad Air 2 has seen significant updates including a thinner design, a new "gapless" display, an anti-reflective coating, 2GB of RAM, an A8X

Apple Encouraging Chrome and Firefox Users to Try Safari After Installing Yosemite

Chrome and Firefox users that install OS X Yosemite are receiving notifications suggesting they give Safari a try, according to multiple reports on Twitter (via Tom Davenport). After upgrading to Yosemite, Apple is sending popups that read "Try the new Safari. Fast, energy efficient, and with a beautiful new design."

The interactive notification comes with "Later" and "Try Now" options, and it seems that users may be receiving the messages when opening Chrome or Firefox for the first time after installing the operating system update.

Apple made several updates to Safari in OS X Yosemite, including adding a new "blazing-fast [Nitro] JavaScript engine" and energy saving technologies to make Safari both faster and more energy efficient. According to Apple, Safari is significantly faster than both Firefox and Chrome, a claim that was tested by CNET and received mixed results.

Safari did better on Apple's JetStream and Speedometer benchmarks that measure JavaScript performance, and it also outperformed Chrome and Firefox using JSBench, but CNET's testing saw it perform worse on Google's Octane benchmark and Mozilla's Kraken benchmark.

The new Safari 8 did demonstrate significant improvements over Safari 7, scoring 81 percent better on JetStream and 89 percent better on Speedometer, suggesting Apple has indeed made some major under-the-hood improvements to the browser.

Along with speed improvements, Safari gained some new security features, including DuckDuckGo support and isolated Private Browsing windows that allow users to have a non-private browsing window

Bank of America Glitch Causes Apple Pay Users to Be Charged Twice for Purchases [Updated]

With Apple Pay positioned as a brand new service that requires banks, credit card companies, and vendors to all work together, it seems that some glitches in the system are inevitable.

Some Bank of America customers have been running into a serious problem when using Apple Pay to make purchases, with two charges showing up on their credit card statements. A CNN report from this morning first suggested that multiple Bank of America customers had been double charged, which Bloomberg later confirmed. Hundreds of customers are said to be affected.

A Bank of America representative contacted by CNN said that the issue was on Apple Pay's end and after some confusion about who should be contacted for a refund, Bank of America was able to refund the money.
Bank of America transferred me to Apple Pay customer support. The only problem: Apple's representative reminded me that for security's sake -- as promised -- Apple keeps no records of names or amounts for any of the transactions.

That meant there's nothing Apple could do, the representative told me. So Apple told me to call Bank of America. It was every consumer's worst nightmare: customer service for two companies telling you to call the other.

Thank God for three-way calling. I got Apple and Bank of America on the same line and let them sort it out.

BofA was smart enough to refund me the money, because they said it was obvious to them that these were duplicate charges for the same exact amount.
Bank of America is planning to issue refunds to all Apple Pay customers who were double charged, and according to CNN, a

MasterCard Airs 'Priceless Surprises' World Series Ads Featuring Apple Pay

Earlier this week, Major League Baseball and MasterCard announced a partnership that has seen Apple Pay support roll out at concession stands at ballparks in San Francisco and Kansas City for the World Series. As part of its World Series promotional push, MasterCard also debuted a pair of television ads during last night's Game 1, featuring Apple Pay and the company's "Priceless Surprises" program that has seen cardholders surprised with various rewards.


One spot features former New York Yankees star Mariano Rivera and longtime Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, while the second features Kansas City Royals legend George Brett, with MasterCard promoting surprises such as meet-and-greets with the stars and tickets to World Series games.


On its Priceless Surprises website, MasterCard notes it has surprised over 70,000 cardholders with various rewards, and now Apple Pay gives users more ways to win.

Apple launched its Apple Pay mobile payments service on Monday with the debut of iOS 8.1, with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus supporting the service in-store and in apps, while the new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 support it for in-app purchases only.

MasterCard, Visa, and American Express have all signed onto the program, as have over 500 banks and a number of major retailers. Launching first in the United States, Apple Pay is now accepted at over 200,000 points of sale and the cards and banks responsible for the vast majority of U.S. credit card spending are compatible with the

iPad Air 2 and Retina Mini iPad 3 Pre-Orders Arrive as Apple Begins In-Store Sales

Following the launch of pre-orders last Friday, Apple's new iPad Air 2 and Retina iPad mini 3 models are now making their way into customers' hands and onto retail store shelves. According to The Inquirer and reports from MacRumors readers, pre-orders are now being delivered, and the tablets are now available for purchase online and in store.

Customers in launch countries of the UK and Australia started receiving their tablets today and have already posted unboxing videos. Unlike the iPhone 6 which featured a plain white box, customers report the box for the iPad Air 2 is similar to the original iPad Air with a color representation of the iPad on the cover.


Apple's online store also is still accepting orders with delivery dates of 2 to 4 days for most iPad Air 2 models. In-store pickup for the Air 2 is not available yet for online shoppers, but we have heard from multiple sources that Wi-Fi models are arriving at at least some of Apple's own retail stores for sale beginning today. Based on online ordering, iPad mini 3 supplies are more abundant, with most Wi-Fi models currently available within 24 hours and cellular models shipping in 1-3 days.

Apple announced the iPad Air 2 last week, highlighting the device's new A8X processor, Touch ID sensor and improved camera. Early benchmarks suggest the iPad Air 2 is up to 55 percent faster than the iPhone 6 and 68 percent faster than last year's iPad Air. The first round of reviews of the Air 2 point out benefits such as a thinner profile and vibrant display, while also noting a slight decrease in battery life

Apple CEO Tim Cook Meets with Top Chinese Official After iCloud Login Harvesting Claims

Apple CEO Tim Cook met with a top Chinese government official in Beijing Wednesday to discuss the security of user data, reports Reuters. The meeting comes after web censorship blog Great Fire claimed earlier this week that hackers worked with Chinese authorities to harvest Apple ID information from Chinese users visiting iCloud.com.

Yesterday, Apple issued a statement acknowledging the attacks on its servers and launched a new browser security guide on its website. The guide stressed the importance of digital certificates, asking users to check for any certificate warnings in their browser and ensure that they are connected to iCloud.com versus a malicious third-party website that resembles the service's homepage.

China has become an increasingly important market for Apple, as the company now has eleven retail stores in the country and sells the iPhone on all three major wireless carriers. Apple also launched the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in China last Friday following a week of successful pre-orders.

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.

First iPad Air 2 Reviews: 'Ridiculously Fast', 'Vibrant Display', Thinner Profile Comes at the Cost of Battery Life

Following Apple's October 16 event that saw the debut of the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3, Apple provided multiple publications with review units. The embargo has now lifted on review posts, so we've gathered some of the relevant excerpts from each site in order to highlight general release reactions to the new tablet.

Apple's iPad Air 2 is an entire millimeter thinner than the original iPad Air, and Apple has billed it as the thinnest tablet in the world. It offers a new A8X processor, Touch ID fingerprint support, an anti-reflective screen coating, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and an improved 8-megapixel rear camera.

Walt Mossberg, Re/code:
So when Apple brought out new iPads last week, and I had a chance to test them over the past four days, you might think I'd be pretty excited about them -- but I'm not. They are, in most respects, the best iPads ever made. But for average users, they represent only a modest evolutionary improvement over last year's models, not the kind of big change that the first iPad Air or the Retina display iPad mini did last year. [...]

The Air 2 didn't allow me to hold or carry the tablet longer and more comfortably than the Air. Its weight of 0.96 pounds isn't discernibly lighter than the Air's weight of one pound. And its thickness of 0.24 inches is a barely noticeable reduction from the Air's 0.29 inches.
Nilay Patel, The Verge:
The Air 2 has a vibrant, sharp display that looks almost painted on. Apple says the new antireflective coating on the Air 2 reduces glare by 56 percent, but I didn't really notice it making a huge difference; you

Apple and GT Advanced Reach Deal to End Partnership, GT to Sell Furnaces to Pay Debt

GT Advanced and Apple have reached a deal that will see the two companies dissolving their partnership, according to documents submitted to the court earlier today, reports The Wall Street Journal. According to GT Advanced attorney Luc Despins, the agreement between the two companies marks an "amicable parting of the ways."

Under the terms of the deal, GT Advanced will sell off more than 2,000 sapphire furnaces, with some of the proceeds going to Apple as repayment for the $440 million loan the company gave GT to purchase the sapphire equipment.

Mr. Despins said the proposed settlement allows GT Advanced to try to sell the furnaces at the Mesa, Ariz. sapphire-manufacturing facility, and give the money to Apple, which financed the equipment. GT Advanced would surrender its claims against Apple, under the deal, and agree not to disparage the technology giant, Mr. Despins said.
There was some speculation that GT Advanced was aiming to force Apple into taking over the sapphire operation, but it appears that Apple is not interested as both parties seem to want out of the deal. With GT planning to sell off all of the furnaces, it is unclear whether Apple will be able to source enough sapphire from other suppliers in order to incorporate sapphire into the iPhone display in the future.

Apple and GT Advanced have also agreed to file a revised explanation for the company's bankruptcy filing, which will be provided to the court at a November 25 hearing, but the original court papers remain sealed. If approved, the settlement between GT Advanced and Apple will see original

iPad Air 2 Up to 55% Faster Than iPhone 6, Up to 68% Faster Than iPad Air

A short time ago, we highlighted a new benchmark appearing to show an iPad Air 2 device carrying an A8X chip with a triple-core 1.5 GHz processor and 2 GB of RAM.

While we mentioned that the enhanced specs have led to huge performance gains compared to the A8 chip found in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Primate Labs has now published a nice pair of charts showing just how dramatic this improvement really is, making the iPad Air 2 far and away the fastest iOS device ever.

The most striking improvement comes in the multi-score benchmarks, where the A8X with its three cores of processing power blows away the dual-core A8 found in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. As a result, the iPad Air 2 registers over 55 percent faster than the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in the multi-core benchmark. Comparing iPad to iPad, the A8X in the iPad Air 2 measures 68 percent faster than the A7 in last year's iPad Air according to the multi-core benchmark.

The iPad Air 2 also sets new high scores in the single-core benchmarks thanks to the 1.5 GHz cores in the A8X, with much of the nearly 13 percent gain over the A8 coming from the 100 MHz speed improvement compared the 1.4 GHz cores found in the iPhone and 6 Plus. The iPad Air 2 of course also compares favorably to the original iPad Air, with single core scores up 23 percent.