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Apple to Unveil Wearable Device on September 9 Alongside iPhone 6

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

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

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

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

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

Related roundup: iWatch

More Evidence of NFC Support for Both iPhone 6 Models

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apple to Reportedly Launch Thinner MacBook by End of 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Related roundup: MacBook Air

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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Inserting text into the QuickBoard app

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

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

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

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QuickBoard demonstrated in the Notes app

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related roundup: iPad Air

Apple to Launch 12.9-Inch iPad in Early 2015

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

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

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

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

Related roundup: iPad Air

Beats Music Launches Promotional iTunes Festival Contest

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

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

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

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

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

Verizon Preparing to Launch Voice Over LTE Network in September

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related roundup: iPad Air

Premium Channel 'Showtime Anytime' Comes to Apple TV

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

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

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

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

Related roundup: Apple TV

Apple Launches Apple TV Channel for 2014 London iTunes Festival

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

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

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

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

Related roundup: Apple TV

Apple Once Again Adds to Lineup for 2014 iTunes Festival in London

itunes_festival_london_2014 As first reported by The Loop, Apple has announced that it will again be expanding the lineup for this year's iTunes Festival in London to include 19 more acts such as Tony Bennett, Mary J. Blige, Ed Sheeran, and more. The festival's schedule has also been updated to show when artists will perform, as deadmau5 will kick off the show on September 1, which will be followed by Beck and Jenny Lewis the next day. Apple has not yet revealed the lineup for the final day.

Apple announced earlier this month that it would be expanding its original lineup to include acts such as Lenny Kravitz and Foxes. The festival's date was announced last month as Apple revealed that Maroon 5, Pharrell Williams, and Calvin Harris would be among the acts performing.

Tickets for the iTunes Festival will be given out through iTunes in a lottery system, and will also be broadcast via the Apple TV, an official iOS app, and through the iTunes desktop application on OS X and Windows.

Earlier this year, Apple held the first annual U.S. iTunes Festival at South by Southwest (SXSW), which featured artists such as Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, Keith Urban, and more. The 2013 iTunes Festival in London was held last September and saw shows from Jack Johnson, Justin Timberlake, and Jessie J, who will also be again be performing at this year's iTunes Festival.

California Law Now Requires All Smartphones to Have Built-In Kill Switches By July 2015

A California bill requiring all smartphones sold in the state to have antitheft technology installed was today signed into law by California governor Jerry Brown. Introduced in February, the SB-962 Smartphones bill, which mandates a "kill switch" for cellular devices, was initially approved by the California State Assembly in early August and passed a final vote in the California Senate shortly after.

The law requires smartphones to include software or hardware that will render the device inoperable to an unauthorized user in the event that the phone is misplaced or stolen. The anti-theft technology, which has to be able to withstand a hard reset or operating system downgrade, must prevent reactivation of the smartphone on a wireless network except by the authorized user. The anti-theft tools must be installed during the phone's initial setup process, and it must be reversible so an authorized user can unlock the device if it is returned to their possession.

California's new law is designed to curb smartphone thefts, which have long been a problem plaguing major metropolitan areas like San Francisco and New York City. Co-sponsored by San Francisco district attorney George Gascón and state Senator Mark Leno, the law will go into effect in July of 2015.
"California has just put smartphone thieves on notice," said Senator Leno, D-San Francisco. "Starting next year, all smartphones sold in California, and most likely every other state in the union, will come equipped with theft deterrent technology when they purchase new phones. Our efforts will effectively wipe out the incentive to steal smartphones and curb this crime of convenience, which is fueling street crime and violence within our communities."

"This epidemic has impacted millions across the nation and millions more around the globe, but today we turn the page," said District Attorney George Gascón. "Seldom can a public safety crisis be addressed by a technological solution, but today wireless consumers everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief. Soon, stealing a smartphone won't be worth the trouble, and these violent street crimes will be a thing of the past. The devices we use every day will no longer make us targets for violent criminals."
While the bill will likely affect smartphone manufacturers like Samsung and Microsoft, Apple already ships its iPhones with Activation Lock, a feature first introduced with iOS 7 that likely fulfills the terms of the law. Activation Lock locks the device to a user's iCloud account and is turned on when Find My iPhone is enabled. A stolen iPhone is essentially bricked with Activation Lock, as thieves cannot sign out of Find My iPhone, deactivate iCloud, or wipe the device without the original user's Apple ID.

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A similar federal law might be passed, if The Smartphone Theft Prevention Act is approved. This act would mandate the inclusion of a "kill switch" in all smartphones sold across the country, which would be used to make a lost or stolen device inoperable and allow consumers to remotely wipe all of their personal data.

Currently, only Minnesota and California have legislation mandating anti-theft technology for smartphones, but back in April, major smartphone manufacturers like Apple, Google, Samsung, Nokia, and all major carriers agreed to add anti-theft tools to all smartphones manufactured after July 2015.

iPhone 6 'Phosphorus' Component Likely a Barometric Pressure Sensor, Not Next-Generation M7

Earlier today, Weibo user GeekBar continued his leaks of claimed wiring schematics of iPhone 6 components with a new "Phosphorus" component that was interpreted as the next-generation version of Apple's M7 co-processor. The M7 collects and tracks motion data from various sensors in the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and Retina iPad mini, and with the iPhone 6 rumored to be including a number of new health- and fitness-related sensors, a more powerful version of the M7 seems possible for the new device.

But according to MacRumors forum poster leecbaker, who is clearly familiar with these types of components, the item depicted in the schematic is not a next-generation M7 and actually appears to be a barometric pressure sensor. The iPhone 6 has been rumored to include a number of new environmental sensors such as an atmospheric pressure sensor.
The chip pictured has the part number BMP282. I'm 99.99% sure this is a Bosch barometric pressure sensor, similar to this part BMP280. Variants of one part often have slightly different part numbers- if Apple got Bosch to customize the chip for them with different packaging, or a slightly different measurement range, that would explain the difference in part number.
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Bosch's BMP280 barometric pressure sensor

leecbaker goes on to highlight a number of applications for that Bosch pressure sensor, including GPS and indoor/outdoor navigation enhancement, weather forecasting, altimetry, and spirometry, the lung function measurements that were added to Apple's Health app in a recent iOS 8 beta.

Another MacRumors poster, kdarling, corroborates leecbaker's conclusions, noting that the pins on the Bosch sensor match those outlined in the schematic. He also notes that the BMP series is limited to pressure sensing and does not include the humidity and temperature sensing capabilities found in Bosch's BME series of sensors.

Assuming this new information is correct, and it certainly appears to make sense, this marks the second time a component leaked by GeekBar has been incorrectly identified. The poster had previously claimed a schematic showed the iPhone 6 carrying the same 1 GB RAM found in previous A-series chips, but that was quickly revealed to be a reference to an aspect of flash storage rather than RAM.

(Thanks, @anexanhume!)

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

Schematics Allegedly Reveal M7 Successor Chip 'Phosphorus'

Apple is unsurprisingly working on a new version of the M7 co-processor for the upcoming iPhone 6, claims GeekBar (Via G 4 Games) in a post on Weibo. In this latest report, a new set of schematics allegedly showcase this new co-processor chip, which is internally labeled "Phosphorus."

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GeekBar claims "Phosphorus" will be the successor to the M7, collecting motion data as well as processing other health-related information handled by Apple's new HealthKit API. This chip potentially is the power behind Apple's new Health app for iOS 8, which will import data from the iPhone and other third-party devices in order to create an overview of the user's health.

Apple introduced its new Health tracking app and its HealthKit API at WWDC in June. Besides encouraging developers to build health and fitness-related functionality into its device, Apple also may be talking to hospitals, health institutions and insurance companies in order to expand its HealthKit initiative beyond the user's device. In one scenario, data from the Health app could be shared with a health insurance companies in order to lower a healthy subscriber's monthly premium.

Update 9:29 AM: The "Phosphorus" component actually appears to be a barometric pressure sensor, not a next-generation M7 chip.

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

Apple's Reversible USB-Lightning Cable Unlikely for iPhone 6, but New Adapter Possible

Amid rumors of a new Lightning cable with a reversible USB connector and a redesigned power adapter from Apple, third-party vendor Moca.co is claiming that while the adapter may be ready for launch alongside the iPhone 6 next month, Apple is not yet ready to debut its new Lightning cable. Moca.co says that it is an MFi-certified vendor working with Apple's primary Lightning cable provider and that Apple has not yet placed any orders for the new cable.
We are informed by the Official Appointed Manufacturer of Apple that the new Reversible USB Cable will not be released together with upcoming iPhone 6 and Apple has not placed any order with them yet. Apple fans will not be able to get the MFi version of this revolutionary cable from Apple this year but that is not the end of the story.
According to Moca.co, the manufacturing partner has sent samples of the Lightning cable with reversible USB connector to Apple for approval, but Apple has yet to move forward with manufacturing orders. Even once it does, it will reportedly be several months before the cables are ready.

The redesigned power adapter may, however, be ready to launch with the iPhone 6, as Moca.co tells MacRumors the design has been confirmed and mass production is already underway. According to the report, the new adapter supports up to 2A of current, twice that of the current adapter shipping with the iPhone. The new adapter will reportedly be able to power all iPhone, iPod, and iPad mini models, with the redesign likely driven by the higher power requirements of the larger iPhone 6 models.

Moca.co's prototype adapter and cable based on Apple's designs

Moca.co is planning to offer its own versions of the cable and adapter from its MFi-licensed manufacturing partners, and is currently taking pre-orders with plans of October delivery if it can obtain a sufficient number of pre-orders to initiate production.

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

Outlining the Case for 1334 x 750 and 2208 x 1242 iPhone 6 Retina Displays

Throughout the past few months, a number of rumors have suggested many different resolutions for both the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6, giving a variety of reasons as to how Apple will best optimize a larger screen size for both users and developers.

Prominent Apple journalist John Gruber has now given his in-depth take on the subject, suggesting that the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 will likely feature a resolution of 1334 x 750 with 326 pixels per inch, while the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 would most likely have a resolution of 2208 x 1242 with 461 pixels per per inch. While Gruber insists that he has no specific knowledge of these resolutions for the iPhone 6, he makes a strong case for why they make the most sense for Apple.

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4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 mockups compared to iPhone 5s

Gruber notes that keeping the current "2x" Retina resolution at 326 ppi on the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 would be consistent with Apple's previous patterns on iOS devices:
At 4.7 inches, 1334 × 750 works perfectly as a new iPhone display, addressing problem #1, showing more content. With point dimensions of 667 × 375, this display would show 1.38 times more points than the iPhone 5. At 326 pixels-per-inch, everything on screen would remain exactly the same physical size. There would just be 38 percent more room for content.
Gruber also adds that moving to a "3x" Retina resolution at 461 ppi for the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 would display an even greater amount of content while being able to render the same Retina pixels on a larger scale:
Everything works at these dimensions for a 5.5-inch display. With an increase in area of 68 percent and a scaling factor of 1.06, this display would address both reasons why someone might want a very large iPhone: it would show a lot more content, and it would render everything on screen, point-for-point, a little bit bigger. And at 461 pixels-per-inch, everything would be amazingly sharp.
In both of those examples, existing apps would still be able to run at such resolutions, as optimizing current apps would be made easier considering the scaled nature of the displays.

The given 1334 x 750 resolution of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 contrasts with information shared by luxury modified iPhone vendor Feld & Volk earlier this week, which came with a photo showing the display of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 under a microscope with a pixel density higher than 326 ppi, perhaps 1704 x 960. That resolution has also been cited in previous rumors, but Gruber claims in his post that an iPhone 6 with a resolution of 1704 x 960 would only work well for 4.0-inch displays, as it would not show any additional content compared to the iPhone 5 when measured in touch points.

Gruber also comments on the possibility of both a 4.7-inch and a 5.5-inch iPhone 6 with a resolution of 1472 x 828. The claim states that such a resolution on the 4.7-inch device would render UI elements and text about 10 percent smaller, while such a resolution on the 5.5-inch device would equal out to be 307 pixels per inch, or only marginally better than Apple's original definition of the Retina display as being at least 300 ppi.

The iPhone 6 is expected to be unveiled on Tuesday, September 9 at a media event. It is likely that the 4.7-inch version will go on sale about a week after the announcement, but the 5.5-inch may be held back due to production issues. In addition to a larger display, the iPhone 6 will likely feature a thinner design, a faster A8 processor, an improved camera, a more durable Touch ID sensor, and more.

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

Image of Redesigned Apple USB Power Adapter Surfaces [Updated]

A new image said to be of a redesigned Apple USB power adapter has been shared by a user on Weibo (Google Translate, via Gizmobic), hinting that Apple's supposed new Lightning cable may be released alongside a new charger. The power adapter appears to be more rounded compared to Apple's current offering, and also includes grooves on each side to improve comfort while holding and inserting the accessory.

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While it is possible that the product in the image could be of a fake, the charger does have the signature "Designed by Apple in California" text along with other applicable information and logos. The user also shows another image of the new Lightning cable with its reversible USB connector, which has been spotted in a number of other photos and even a video throughout the past few weeks.

If both new products turn out to be real, it is possible that Apple could ship a new Lightning cable and new USB power adapter alongside this fall's expected lineup of new iOS devices, possibly starting with the iPhone 6 next month.

Update: As pointed out by a user in our forums, the USB adapter shown in the images carries the same design as Apple's current 5W USB Power Adapter sold in Australia. However, the prongs on the new adapter in the photo are of Type A used in the United States and many other countries, perhaps indicating that the design could be soon applied to Apple's other power adapters in different countries.

Apple Initiates iPhone 5 Battery Replacement Program

iphone_5_black_whiteApple has begun an iPhone 5 Battery Replacement Program to replace the batteries of a small percentage of iPhone 5 units that have a faulty battery resulting in a shorter battery life and longer, more frequent charging times.

iPhone 5 devices exhibiting battery issues were sold between September of 2012 and January of 2013 and are eligible for a free battery replacement.
Apple has determined that a very small percentage of iPhone 5 devices may suddenly experience shorter battery life or need to be charged more frequently. The affected iPhone 5 devices were sold between September 2012 and January 2013 and fall within a limited serial number range.

If your iPhone 5 is experiencing these symptoms and meets the eligibility requirements noted below, Apple will replace your iPhone 5 battery, free of charge.
Apple says the issue affects only a "limited serial number range." iPhone 5 users can input their serial numbers on Apple's replacement site to find out whether their phones need a new battery. Those who do have a faulty battery can get a replacement through an Apple Authorized Service Provider, an Apple Retail Store, or through Apple Technical support.

Users who already paid to replace their batteries will be eligible to receive a refund for the cost of the battery from Apple. Apple's support site says the program covers iPhone 5 batteries for two years after the first retail sale of the unit or until March 1, 2015, whichever provides longer coverage. Replacements are available beginning today in the United States and China, with the program beginning in other countries on August 29.

In addition to the new Battery Replacement Program, Apple also has a replacement program for iPhone 5 units that have a faulty sleep/wake button, which also provides repairs at no cost. Some iPhone 5s units have also experienced faulty battery life but Apple opted to reach out individually to affected users rather than implementing a replacement program for those devices.

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

Third-Party Vendor Beats Apple to Market With Reversible Lightning USB Cables

Amid rumors that Apple is developing a Lightning cable with a reversible USB connector, third-party accessory vendor Truffol has begun selling a reversible USB Lightning cable on its website, beating Apple to the punch.

Priced at $9.99, the reversible cable advertised by Truffol is designed to be inserted into a USB port in either direction, a shift from a traditional USB cable that can only be inserted in one direction. While the cable is not Apple-approved and thus not Made for iPhone (MFi) certified, Truffol has told MacRumors that its cable works with both existing iOS devices and the upcoming iPhone 6. Using non-certified third-party iPhone accessories is not recommended by Apple, however, and in the past, some third-party accessories have caused damage to iOS devices.

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It is not clear whether these third-party reversible USB Lightning cables were already in development ahead of the rumors suggesting Apple was developing its own reversible solution or if they were designed in response to rumors, but their sudden availability may possibly hint at the existence of an Apple-branded reversible cable. Truffol told MacRumors that it believes the idea for the third-party reversible Lightning cables originated from "insider Apple sources."

Rumors of an Apple-branded Lightning cable with a reversible USB connector first surfaced last week in the form of leaked images and videos, but Apple initially filed a patent application for the technology in January 2014, which became public in late July.

Video depicting alleged Apple Lightning cable with reversible USB connector

Apple may face some legal hurdles if it launches a reversible Lightning USB cable. A California company named UltraTek holds a patent for a reversible USB connector and already sells reversible USB cables through a number of different online retailers, but it is possible Apple has licensed the technology or developed a solution that is different enough not to infringe on UltraTek's existing technology.

A second Apple patent filing that was published earlier this week suggests Apple has indeed improved on current reversible USB connector designs, as it details a cable with a flexible internal connector. Described as a flexible "tongue," Apple's design would allow a USB connector to flex to fit into any existing USB port regardless of insertion orientation. The flexible design may be superior to existing reversible USB designs because it allows for a thicker, sturdier middle "stalk" and a stronger connection with contacts.

It is possible that Apple's rumored Lightning cable with a reversible USB connector might debut as soon as September, introduced alongside the iPhone 6 that's expected to be unveiled at a September 9 media event.