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iPhone 6s Now Available SIM-Free in Apple Online Store

The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are now available SIM-free in Apple's online store, allowing potential customers to buy an unlocked iPhone with no carrier attached. The new option was first spotted by MacRumors forum member Ternary. On its website, Apple explains the differences between a regular iPhone and a SIM-free one.

The SIM-free iPhone comes without a wireless contract commitment or carrier financing. It doesn’t come with a nano-SIM card for iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, or iPhone 5s. And because it’s unlocked, it isn’t tied to one carrier, so you can get a nano-SIM from any supported carrier worldwide, such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, or Sprint in the United States.
Purchasing a SIM-free iPhone means that customers have to pay for the full price of the device upfront. It's ideal for customers who want to avoid multi-year commitments with carriers or for travelers who want to easily be able to switch to local carriers when traveling abroad. The SIM-free iPhone 6s is model A1633 while the iPhone 6s Plus is model A1634.

Related Roundup: iPhone 6s
Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Buy Now)

Elon Musk: If You Don't Make It at Tesla, You Go Work at Apple

elonmuskIn a new interview with German newspaper Handelsblatt (via Business Insider), Tesla CEO Elon Musk spoke about his thoughts on the much-rumored Apple Car. Additionally, Musk was asked what he thought about Apple hiring away some of Tesla's "most important engineers."
Important engineers? They have hired people we’ve fired. We always jokingly call Apple the “Tesla Graveyard.” If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I’m not kidding.
Musk was then asked whether he takes Apple's car ambitions seriously, to which he joked "did you ever take a look at the Apple Watch?" He went on to say that it was good Apple was moving toward and investing in a car, saying that it's the "next logical thing" for the company to offer "significant innovation."

The Tesla CEO went on to poke fun at the newly announced Apple Pencil and iPad Pro, saying that innovation in the form of a new pencil or a bigger iPad are "not relevant enough." However, Musk cautions that cars are far more complex than smartphones and smartwatches. "You can't just go to a supplier like Foxconn and say: Build me a car," Musk told the German newspaper.

Apple and Tesla have hired each other's employees over the course of the last year, with Musk saying that Apple has hired away "very few people" from the car company despite offering $250,000 signing bonuses and 60 percent salary increases to its employees. Tesla has hired nearly 150 Apple employees.

Related Roundup: Apple Car

Second Wave iPhone 6s and 6s Plus Launch Kicks Off in 40 Countries Around the World

Apple's iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are now available for purchase in Taiwan, marking the start of the second wave iPhone launch. Beginning October 9, iPhone 6s and 6s Plus availability is expanding to more than 40 countries, the bulk of which are in Europe. In each country, Apple retail stores, Apple Authorized Resellers, and local carriers will begin offering the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus as retail locations begin opening in the morning.

A full list of countries where the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus will be available as October 9 rolls around is below:

Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Taiwan

Locations in Taiwan recently began selling the new iPhones, with some customers that having waited in line for more than 60 hours to get one of the first available phones in the country (via TechBang).

Customers line up for the iPhone 6s in Taiwan, via TechBang

In several of the countries where the iPhone 6s launch is still a few hours off, customers are already lining up. In Copenhagen and Sweden, customers are waiting outside Telia stores to get an iPhone. In Russia, customers have the option to get their iPhone 6s and 6s Plus devices delivered via taxi, and in Italy, customers are waiting in line at the Apple Store in Campi Bizenzio as a fundraiser for a pediatric hospital.

Following today's launch, iPhone 6s and 6s Plus availability will also be expanding to additional countries as part of additional waves set to take place in subsequent weeks.

- October 10: Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates
- October 15: Israel
- October 16: India, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta, Montenegro, South Africa, and Turkey
- October 23: Belarus, Guam, Moldova, Serbia, South Korea, and Ukraine

In a recent press release announcing opening weekend iPhone 6s and 6s Plus sales of more than 13 million, Apple said the company will bring the new iPhones to more than 130 countries by the end of the year.

Related Roundup: iPhone 6s
Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Buy Now)

Apple Pay Coming to Starbucks, KFC, and Chili's in 2016

Popular coffee chain Starbucks will begin accepting Apple Pay by the end of the year, says Apple Pay vice president Jennifer Bailey, who spoke today at Re/code's Code Mobile Conference in Half Moon Bay, California.

Starbucks plans to team up with Apple to launch an Apple Pay pilot program in select U.S. stores this year before rolling Apple Pay out to approximately 7,500 company-owned Starbucks locations in the United States in early 2016. The Apple Pay payments service will be connected to Starbucks' own loyalty program, but it is not clear if Starbucks customers who make purchases with Apple Pay will be able to earn Starbucks rewards.

At the current time, Starbucks uses its own barcode-based in-app mobile payments system for coffee and snack purchases made within its retail stores. The Starbucks iOS app does support Apple Pay, but only for reloading Starbucks cards. Given the popularity of Starbucks, Apple Pay availability at the chain could be a major boon for Apple.

In addition to Starbucks, Apple Pay will also be available in KFC fast food locations and Chili's sit-down restaurants starting next year. In Chili's, customers will be able to pay for their food directly at their tables using Apple Pay.

On stage, Bailey said Apple was "fully committed to NFC," calling it the "best technology out there" for mobile payments. She also said Apple wants to bring Apple Pay to as many countries as possible in the future, expanding beyond the United Kingdom and the United States.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay

Apple Claims TSMC vs Samsung A9 Chip Variants Result in Only 2-3% Difference in 'Real World' Battery Life

Over the past several days, a slew of battery tests on the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus have revealed some performance differences between models that have an A9 chip manufactured by TSMC and those with an A9 chip created by Samsung. While various benchmarking and real world usage tests have shown differences of 6 percent to 22 percent, in favor of TSMC chips, Apple says that its own testing has shown battery life variations of only two to three percent.

In a statement given to TechCrunch, Apple says that it has done internal testing and gathered customer data to determine the performance difference between the two chips in the iPhones.
With the Apple-designed A9 chip in your iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus, you are getting the most advanced smartphone chip in the world. Every chip we ship meets Apple's highest standards for providing incredible performance and deliver great battery life, regardless of iPhone 6s capacity, color, or model.

Certain manufactured lab tests which run the processors with a continuous heavy workload until the battery depletes are not representative of real-world usage, since they spend an unrealistic amount of time at the highest CPU performance state. It's a misleading way to measure real-world battery life. Our testing and customer data show the actual battery life of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, even taking into account variable component differences, vary within just 2-3% of each other.
Apple says that early battery benchmark tests conducted by customers, such as those we shared yesterday, are not reflective of real world usage conditions. The two to three percent difference that Apple has seen in data gathered from customers is "well within its manufacturing tolerances" and is a level of variation that could be seen between two devices with the same chip.

Apple's statement on real world usage reflects what recent YouTube tests have revealed. Side-by-side battery tests comparing a TSMC iPhone and a Samsung iPhone did not show differences as dramatic as benchmark tests have shown, but those videos are also not quite indicative of real world usage results. On the MacRumors forums, opinions on battery life have been highly mixed. While some users with Samsung chips have reported poor battery life, others have not reported issues.

Wi-Fi Calling Now Available for AT&T Users

AT&T has flipped the switch on Wi-Fi calling, making it available to customers with eligible plans that are running iOS 9. MacRumors has received tips from customers who were able to activate Wi-Fi calling and we were able to activate the feature on our own iPhones. A number of readers in our forums are also having success activating Wi-Fi calling.

Wi-Fi calling is a feature that lets calls be placed over a wireless connection when cellular connectivity is poor, functioning much like an AT&T M-Cell does now. It's similar to Apple's own FaceTime Audio feature, which also routes calls over a Wi-Fi connection.

AT&T customers can turn on Wi-Fi calling by going to the Phone section of the Settings app and toggling on the Wi-Fi calling feature. From there, there are a set of steps to walk through, including entering an emergency 911 address. Wi-Fi calling is available on the iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus, and 6s Plus running iOS 9.

Customers who want to use Wi-Fi calling need to have AT&T HD voice features enabled, along with an Internet connection. Wi-Fi calling can be used for voice calls within the United States, Puerto Rico, and United States Virgin Islands at no charge. Long distance global voice calls will be charged standard long distance rates.

Once the setup process is complete, customers are receiving notifications letting them know the Wi-Fi calling feature will be available after a short activation period.

AT&T promised to launch Wi-Fi calling alongside iOS 9, but last week announced the feature was delayed due to its inability to get an FCC waiver that would temporarily allow the carrier to forgo offering support options for deaf and hard-of-hearing customers. On Tuesday of this week, AT&T finally received the waiver that it needed to move forward with Wi-Fi calling.

Related Roundup: iOS 9
Tags: AT&T, Wi-Fi calling

Samsung and TSMC iPhone 6s Chips Show Smaller Real-World Battery Impacts Compared to Benchmarks

The news that Apple dual sourced its A9 chips for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus has been a point of discussion over the past few weeks, especially when new battery tests on the phones pointed towards the TSMC chips outperforming those made by Samsung. Following the news, several YouTubers have begun creating videos to compare the dual sourced chips in both battery-straining tests and basic real-world scenarios.

In the first video, Austin Evans compared identical models of the iPhone 6s -- one with the Samsung chip and one with the TSMC chip -- and calibrated their screens so they had the exact same brightness. After running the GeekBench 3 battery test until they both ran down to 50 percent battery life, Evans discovered that the TSMC iPhone 6s lasted fifty minutes longer than the Samsung version, "resulting in a nearly 1.5 times difference in battery life." Thermal imaging also showed the Samsung device running hotter than the TSMC version.

Evans also ran a lighter battery test, playing the same hour-long YouTube video on each device to see how a more day-to-day scenario would affect each chip. In the end, he saw only a one percentage point difference in battery drain, noting that while heavy-use cases could see the TSMC chips come out on top, highlighting the differences between benchmarks and real-world usage.

The next video is from Jonathan Morrison, who compared each chip by running a 30-minute timelapse with all the same settings and brightness running on each device. After the test, the Samsung iPhone 6s was down to 84 percent battery, while the TSMC version came in on top with 89 percent remaining. Morrison continued testing the battery strength of each chip with a ten-minute 4k video test, exporting the video file in iMovie, and finishing off by running GeekBench 3. At the end of the full set of tests, the iPhone with the Samsung chip was at 55 percent battery while the TSMC device was at 62 percent.

The takeaway from Morrison and Evans' videos today seems to be that while intense cases like synthetic Geekbench tests designed to push devices to their limits revealed as high as a 22% difference in battery life between devices using the two chips, real-world impacts may be much smaller depending on the mix of activities. In these specific usage patterns shown above, battery life differences between the two processors ranged from 6% to 11%.

Related Roundup: iPhone 6s
Tags: Samsung, TSMC, A9
Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Buy Now)

Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Trackpad 2 References Found in OS X 10.11.1 Beta

The third OS X El Capitan 10.11.1 beta seeded to developers yesterday contains references to a Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Trackpad 2, as spotted by French website Consomac. Apple could ship the next-generation keyboard and mouse accessories alongside the new 4K 21.5-inch Retina iMac expected to launch next week, although the exact release date remains uncertain.

keyboard_with_imac copy
Apple's current-generation Wireless Keyboard and Magic Mouse

A new Apple Wireless Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2, each featuring Bluetooth 4.2 and rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, first appeared in FCC filings in August. Apple also registered several new web domains related to the term "Magic Keyboard" in September, including,, and

Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Trackpad 2 references in OS X 10.11.1

Apple currently sells an Apple Wireless Keyboard, Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad, each powered by two AA batteries, so these newly uncovered accessories are in all likelihood next-generation versions. The new Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Trackpad 2 could have Force Touch, which is built into new MacBooks, while the inclusion of Touch ID is a more unlikely possibility.

Harry Potter Enhanced Editions Now Available Exclusively on iBooks

Apple today announced that enhanced editions of all seven books in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling are now available exclusively through the iBooks Store around the world for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac.

The enhanced Harry Potter books feature the full original text, interactive animations, detailed artwork and annotations from Rowling. There are also exclusive custom covers for each title, custom Harry Potter typefaces and new section headers and drop caps.

Harry Potter Enhanced Editions are available in English for $9.99 each in 32 countries, while pre-orders begin today for French, German and Spanish versions, which will be available on November 9 in 18 additional countries.
“I’m thrilled to see the Harry Potter books so beautifully realised on iBooks for the digital world; the artwork and animations in these enhanced editions bring the stories alive in a delightful new way,” said J.K. Rowling.

“Harry Potter fans are going to love how their favorite stories come to life,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “J.K. Rowling’s legendary series is perfect for enjoying on your iPad or iPhone and we’re thrilled to offer them exclusively on the iBooks Store.”
Harry Potter digital books were previously only available for purchase through the Pottermore shop that J.K. Rowling developed in partnership with Sony.

Jony Ive Discusses His Lasting Memory of Steve Jobs, New Role as Chief Design Officer

Today at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit, Jony Ive sat down with director JJ Abrams and film producer Brian Grazer in a panel titled "Changing Worlds, Inventing Worlds" and spoke about his lasting memory of Steve Jobs and his new role as Chief Design Officer.

Image via Vanity Fair

Ive said he had messy feelings about Jobs when he died and knew of the "incredible complexity" of his attributes, but that in the four years since his death most of those attributes have receded. Since then, Ive believes he's been left with something that is "just him."
Quite honestly, what’s remained, I never would have predicted four years ago. What’s remained is almost unremarkable, but what’s remained is his very simple focus on trying to make something beautiful and great. And it really was simple. There wasn’t a grand plan of winning, or a very complicated agenda. That simplicity seemed almost childlike in its purity. And it’s true.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so happy, as I saw him—this very simple kind of joy—when he would realize, “This is actually working out. This could be great.” It was just the simplicity of that.
That simplicity stands in "stark contrast" to the way Jobs is being portrayed in films like the upcoming Steve Jobs, according to Ive. He notes that Jobs had a sense of civic responsibility to make something good that contributed to humanity and culture.

When asked about Jobs portrayal in Steve Jobs, Ive noted that he "didn't recognize this person at all." He went on to say that the way someone is portrayed can be "hijacked" by people who aren't close friends or family.

Ive also commented on his new role as Chief Design Officer, saying that he "should have done this years ago" and that he hasn't felt "this happy and creative in years and years." Ive's new role, which he officially assumed on July 1, allows him to be more hands-off with day-to-day operations in addition to focusing on new ideas and future initiatives. Ive's day-to-day management of the design team has been turned over to Alan Dye, vice president of user interface design, and Richard Howarth, vice president of industrial design.

Tag: Jony ive

TSMC's A9 Chip Outperforming Samsung's in Early iPhone 6s Battery Benchmarks

Following the launch of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus last month, it was discovered that Apple is dual sourcing the A9 chip for the new devices from both TSMC and Samsung, with the chips from the two companies measuring at slightly different sizes due to different processes used in manufacturing the chips. As users began to determine which chips were used in their devices, data began to point toward a 60/40 split in favor of TSMC, although the ratio has shifted toward 50/50 as more data has been obtained.

Benchmarks have suggested there is little if any difference in chip performance between the two A9 variants, but some recent battery testing (via Engadget) is hinting at the possibility of significantly better battery life for models with the TSMC-manufactured A9 chip.

We should caution that data points remain few at this time and controlling for variables to accurately focus the comparison only on the differences in the A9 is difficult, but these limited tests are generating significant amounts of interest in our discussion forums and elsewhere.

Perhaps the most dramatic result comes from a reddit poster who compared Samsung and TSMC versions of the iPhone 6s Plus using the battery life test included in Geekbench 3, finding the TSMC version lasting nearly two hours longer than the model with Samsung A9 chip.

Geekbench battery tests on TSMC (left) and Samsung (right) iPhone 6s Plus variants
Ran this test a couple times and results were consistent. Always about a 2 hour difference in duration. Both phones were tested using the same backup, same settings. Also tried testing them as new phones and results were similar.
We asked John Poole of Primate Labs, the developers of Geekbench, for any insight into the dramatic differences being observed in some cases, and he noted there have been rumors of TSMC's 16-nanometer process being "superior" to Samsung's 14-nanometer process in power consumption. He was, however, surprised by the amount of difference in observed battery life considering the various components have essentially identical performance benchmarks. Ideally, further controlled testing can be performed to offer a more accurate comparison between the variants.

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Related Roundup: iPhone 6s
Tags: Samsung, TSMC, A9
Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Buy Now)

Apple Seeds Third OS X El Capitan 10.11.1 Beta to Developers and Public Beta Testers

Apple today seeded the third beta of an upcoming OS X El Capitan update to developers and public beta testers for testing purposes, just over one one week after releasing the second OS X 10.11.1 beta and a week after the public release of OS X El Capitan on September 30.

The new beta, build 15B30a, is available through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store and through the Apple Developer Center.

The first beta of OS X 10.11.1 introduced support for a range of new emoji included in Unicode 8, like cheese wedge, taco, burrito, popcorn, middle finger, unicorn head, and more. Other betas appear to include under-the-hood fixes that are not immediately apparent.

It is not clear what the first update to OS X El Capitan will bring to the new OS aside from updated emoji, but it's likely to be a minor update that includes bug fixes and performance improvements for issues encountered following the operating system's official release. According to Apple's release notes, the beta offers stability, compatibility, and security improvements.

Related Roundup: OS X El Capitan
Tag: OS X 10.11.1