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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.

BlackBerry Takes Advantage of iMessage Spam Reports to Tout BBM

BlackBerry is taking advantage of reports of iMessage's vulnerability to spam messages to tout its BlackBerry Messenger app. In a blog post, the company highlights a report from earlier this week that said iMessage users see quite a bit of spam, with accounts run by spammers responsible for more than 30 percent of all spam messages on mobile devices.

BlackBerry suggests that iMessage users switch to BBM to avoid spam and lists five reasons why BBM is superior to iMessage. According to the company, BBM is safer primarily because it does not utilize a phone number or email address and it only accepts messages from contacts.

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1) BBM is architected in a way that protects our 85 million users against spammers. iMessage works off of phone number or Apple ID. Anyone who has your number or Apple ID can send you messages whether you want them to or not. With BBM, users have a lot more control due to our "invite and accept" paradigm. In other words, both parties need to be mutually committed to being contacts in order to send and receive messages.

2) BBM gives you control. There's no spam on BBM due to its self-policing system. Users are in control of their contact list and there is no way to send a message without being contacts. You can't control someone showing up to your house, but you don't have to open the door. With BBM someone can request to be added to your list, but you don't have to accept their invite.
BlackBerry also uses its list to highlight BBM's encryption that protects messages from "spying or hacking," its ability to block contacts, and its cross-platform availability.

Despite all of BBM's apparent perks, BlackBerry has had trouble convincing users to adopt the app due to competition from iMessage and other messaging apps like WhatsApp, Kik, WeChat, and more. In late 2013, BlackBerry users on Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry phones sent and received approximately 10 billion messages per day, while WhatsApp processed upwards 50 billion messages per day.

Listed as number 56 in the social networking section of the App Store, BBM is ranked far below competing messaging apps. BlackBerry itself has also been struggling in recent months as iOS and Android make gains in the enterprise market.

The initial report on iMessage spam pointed towards Apple's deep integration of mobile and desktop as the reason for iMessage's popularity with scammers. While the uptick in iMessage spam has been recent, Apple does have some measures in place to combat spammers. There's rate-limiting on the iMessage network to stop users from sending hundreds of messages and there is a spam reporting protocol in place, but Apple will likely need adopt more aggressive measures in the future to limit spam messages due to the platform's growing popularity with spammers.

More Supply Chain Claims of Likely Early 2015 Launch for iWatch

iwatch_concept_setEarlier this week, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo released a report claiming Apple may not launch the iWatch until 2015 due to manufacturing difficulties associated with the new device. A follow-up report from Taiwan's Economic Daily News (via G 4 Games) echoes this assertion with supply chain information hinting at an early 2015 debut for Apple's wearable device.

Anonymous supply chain sources told Economic Daily News that Apple is requesting delivery of hardware components for the iWatch as it prepares to start assembly of the wristwatch device in September. Sources claim it will take Apple several months of manufacturing refinement before it has a final product that is ready for retail shelves.

Once it hits production, iWatch yield is rumored to be lower than first predicted, with one million watches rolling off factory lines each month. Because of the lengthy and limited production process, Apple may not be able to launch the iWatch fully in 2014. Instead, the company may decide to offer the iWatch in limited quantities at the end of this year or wait until 2015 to start selling the wearable device.

While Apple tends to unveil a product and release it shortly after the announcement, the company has utilized a protracted launch strategy with select new products. Apple introduced the original iPhone six months ahead of its retail availability and unveiled the first iPad two months before it went on sale.

Most recently, Apple used a similar strategy with its Mac Pro, unveiling the machine six months before it was made available for purchase in December 2013. When it finally went on sale, the Mac Pro was available in limited quantities for several months following its initial retail release.

(Image: iWatch concept by SET Solution)

Related roundup: iWatch

China Telecom iPhone 6 Ad Suggests Simplified Model Lineup for Different Carrier Technologies

According to a Sina News report (via ZDNet), China Telecom this week briefly announced plans to sell an unlocked version of the iPhone 6 in order to compete with rival carriers. The Sina report sources a Weibo post from China Telecom's Shanghai office that was posted earlier this week and later deleted.

The move suggests Apple is planning to sell a version of the iPhone 6 that will support all wireless networks in the country, including dual 4G (TDD-LTE and FDD-LTE), WCDMA, CDMA2000, GSM, and CDMA1X. This opens up LTE to China Telecom subscribers and makes the country's number three carrier more competitive with its bigger rivals China Unicom and China Mobile.

Apple currently sells three different models each of the iPhone 5s and 5c in China in order to accommodate the different technologies used by the country's carriers. But with updated modem and antenna technology for the iPhone 6, Apple may be able to streamline its model lineup to more efficiently support the various carrier technologies.

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As part of its advertisement, China Telecom used an iPhone 6 rendering from a Behance gallery posted early last month by Tomas Moyano and Nicolas Aichino. The renderings have been fairly popular around the web, including in our own stories, but differ from most recent leaks in some aspects such as omitting a protruding camera ring and showing rear shells featuring different colors at top and bottom.

Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 6 at a press event to be held in early September. The handset may include larger 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch display options, a faster A8 processor, an improved iSight camera and a new Touch ID sensor. Sales of the 4.7-inch version are expected to begin at the end of September, with the 5.5-inch model launching either alongside or up to several months later than the smaller model.

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

Apple Suppliers 'Scrambling' to Produce Enough iPhone 6 Displays After Issues With New Backlight

Apple's supply chain is scrambling to get enough displays ready for the iPhone 6 ahead of its launch next month, reports Reuters.

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Front panel said to be from the 4.7-inch iPhone 6

The report notes that production issues were made prevalent when the backlight film for the device's display panel had to be redesigned, halting production for two months:
Two supply chain sources said display panel production suffered a setback after the backlight that helps illuminate the screen had to be revised, putting screen assembly on hold for part of June and July. One said Apple, aiming for the thinnest phone possible, initially wanted to cut back to a single layer of backlight film, instead of the standard two layers, for the 4.7-inch screen, which went into mass production ahead of the 5.5-inch version.
After the backlight film component was revised, Apple reportedly rejected it and went back to add the second layer to the panel causing a delay. As it stands, production of the display has resumed as suppliers are attempting to work quickly to make up for lost time before the device's launch.

Concerns over the iPhone 6's backlight design surfaced last month from supply chain, which also suggested that Apple's desire to use only one backlight film to minimize the size of the handset would cause production delays. Current generation iPhone displays are supplied by Minebea and use two layers in order to improve readability in these backlit displays.

In a single layer setup for the device's display, one layer has to be of a very high quality to take the place of the standard second layer. To meet the demand for the part, Apple had allegedly gone to OMRON and Radian to add them as suppliers alongside Minebea, however the outcome of that effort is not known. Previous reports of production issues surrounding the iPhone 6 had pinpointed challenges with the device's in-cell touch panel and metal casings.

Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 6 at an event on September 9, with a launch for the 4.7-inch version likely come a week later. It is unclear if the 5.5-inch version will ship at the same time, as Apple is also said to be experiencing other production issues with the larger device. Both models of the iPhone 6 will likely feature a thinner, rounded chassis and incorporate a new A8 processor, a refined camera, and iOS 8.

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

iPhone 6 Information Leak Sourced from Foxconn Details Dimensions of 4.7-Inch and 5.5-Inch Versions

French Apple website IGen.fr (Google Translate) has shared a variety of new details about Apple's upcoming iPhone 6, including dimensions for each model, info about the protruding camera ring on the rear of both devices, and more. The photos appear to be of internal information residing in a Foxconn factory, as the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 and 4.7-inch iPhone 6 carry code names of N56 and N61, respectively.

The information states that the final version of the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 will measure 158 mm long, 78 mm wide, and 7.1 mm thick (7.7 with the protruding camera), weighing 184.6 grams, or 6.5 ounces. Also spotted is information for a first prototype, which retained the same length and width but was 7.0 mm thick and weighed 168.5 grams, or 5.9 ounces.

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Supposed measurements of the 5.5-inch iPhone 6

Meanwhile, the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 is said to measure at 138 mm long, 66 mm wide, and 6.9 mm thick, as the weight of the device is not listed. For comparison, the iPhone 5s measures 123x58 mm and is 7.6 mm thick.

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A comparison of both the 5.5-inch and 4.7-inch model, as well as the iPhone 5s

A source close to the production of the 5.5-inch version claims that it will feature a battery with a large capacity, possibly 2915 mAh. That number comes from a in line with a component leak spotted earlier this month. The source did not specify whether the larger device was equipped with a sapphire display, however Apple reportedly shipped 28 containers of displays to Foxconn from the United States. It is possible that those containers could have come from GT Advanced Technologies, which Apple partnered with to produce sapphire displays at a factory in Arizona. However, no additional evidence suggests that is the case.

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A schematic showing the protruding camera on each iPhone 6 and the iPhone 5s

Specifics around the protruding camera ring on both devices are also seen in the photos, as the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 will have an external camera ring that protrudes at 0.67-0.77 millimeters while the ring on the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 will protrude at 0.77 mm. Both protruding camera rings appear to be similar to the one on the fifth-generation iPod touch, although it is unknown at this time what specific purpose they serve. The schematic of the protruding camera ring on the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 was spotted a few days ago, however that was originally interpreted to be for the 4.7-inch iPhone 6.

Finally, the source notes that the iPhone 6 features a well cut-out logo on its rear, which is said to be made from a very durable material and lines up with previous leaks. The device's rear bands sighted in previous leaks are also said to be featured on the iPhone 6, and will act as refined antennas. Apple was also said to be working to feature a 2.5mm headphone jack on the iPhone 6, however the company scrapped it to avoid complaints about compatibility issues with existing audio accessories.

Certification tests for both models were said to take place last week, with mass production reportedly beginning this week. Apple is said to have ordered 40 million 4.7-inch units of the iPhone 6 for the rest of 2014, and is aiming for a 100 million devices by the end of this year. It was also stated that the launch 5.5-inch version may be delayed until a later time, although both are scheduled to be introduced at the same time.

Apple will reveal the iPhone 6 at a media event on Tuesday, September 9. In addition to a refined design as mentioned above, both models of the device will feature a faster A8 processor, an improved camera, and more.

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

Apple in Talks With Insurance Companies Over HealthKit Partnership

In addition to seeking partnerships with several different hospitals and health institutions for its HealthKit initiative, Apple is also speaking with major U.S. insurance companies like UnitedHealth and Humana.

In a report on rising medical costs and partnerships between insurance providers, corporate employers, and fitness device makers, Bloomberg suggests that Apple has spoken with insurance companies about HealthKit, but no specifics on the conversation were provided.

The focus of the piece, highlighting the insurance perks that companies can offer to employees with healthy habits, implies that Apple may be exploring partnerships that would possibly allow its collected data to be shared with insurance companies and other medical providers.
Under the Affordable Care Act, the new national health-care law, companies can spend as much as 30 percent of annual insurance premiums on rewards for healthy behavior.

Technology companies are taking note. Apple Inc., which has new health-tracking software called HealthKit that will be released this year and is said to be developing its own wearable device, has talked with UnitedHealth, the biggest U.S. insurer, and Humana, about its health initiatives, executives at the insurance providers said. The companies wouldn't provide specifics about the conversations. Apple declined to comment.
An example of a partnership between a fitness company, an insurance provider, and a corporation is the agreement between Fitbit and oil company BP. As explained by Bloomberg, BP gave employees the option to wear a Fitbit fitness tracking device to earn points resulting in cheaper health insurance.

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Apple's Health app

It is unclear if Apple is in talks about similar programs, but the company has been exploring many different options for its HealthKit initiative. First introduced during WWDC, HealthKit is a set of APIs designed to be incorporated into apps and hardware devices, collecting and aggregating a wealth of health and fitness data into one convenient location.

HealthKit pairs with the newly introduced Health app, which provides an interface for users to view all of this health data. Apple has already announced several partners it is working with on HealthKit, including Nike, the Mayo Clinic, and Epic Systems, a company that deals with electronic health records.

A recent report from Reuters has also suggested Apple is in talks with multiple health providers at Mount Sinai, Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and Allscripts, with the company pushing HealthKit and its Health app as an all-in-one patient data resource for medical professionals.

The Health app, built into iOS 8, will be available to the general public as of next month, and the first fitness and health apps and devices will likely introduce support for HealthKit shortly after iOS 8 debuts. The Health app is also said to be heavily tied to Apple's own upcoming wearable, which may measure several different health-related metrics including fitness levels and sleep quality.

Apple Job Postings Point Towards Continued Work on Voice Over LTE

Several new job listings suggest Apple is continuing to work on building support for Voice Over LTE (VoLTE) into its line of mobile devices. VoLTE is designed to allow carriers to send voice calls over LTE networks, right alongside data. On the consumer end, this results in higher quality voice calls and faster call connection times.

Subscribers on CDMA networks (Sprint and Verizon) will further benefit from VoLTE, as it allows the simultaneous use of data and voice, something that's not currently possible.

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First discovered by LightReading (via Gigaom) job openings at Apple include Cellular Systems Protocol Engineer and Senior Baseband Audio Engineer. The protocol engineer position requires hands-on experience with VoLTE, among other wireless technologies, while the senior position also asks for experience with the VoLTE specification. Several additional positions also ask for experience with Session Initiation Protocol, which is essential for creating a connection between devices and LTE networks.
The company is currently advertising for a cellular systems protocol engineer, calling for experience with "VoLTE" and "IMS." Other positions are calling for experience with the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) protocol. [...]

Apple is also looking for a senior baseband engineer to work on "cutting-edge" audio for its devices, which will include the Adaptive Multi-Rate Wideband (AMR-WB) speech compression codec, which is part of the VoLTE specification. The engineer will help to "implement, port, and deploy AMR-WB, AMR-NB, CELP, EVRC-B, EVRC, EVS Vocoders, and Jitter Buffers on Mobile devices," according to the ad.
VoLTE is in the early stages of a rollout, with a full implementation hinging on support from both carriers and device makers. In the U.S., carriers have already begun exploring and investing in VoLTE technology. Earlier this year, Verizon Wireless announced plans to roll out Voice Over LTE in 2014, promising "an HD Voice experience."

AT&T and T-Mobile have also announced support for VoLTE on a limited number of devices and in a limited number of markets, also promising higher quality calls. VoLTE is also picking up steam in other countries around the world, with several global carriers now offering support for the technology.

While Apple is posting new job listings related to VoLTE, it is likely the company has been working on the technology for some time, in response to a carrier shift towards VoLTE. Previous reports from 9to5Mac have suggested that Apple may enable support for VoLTE alongside the launch of iOS 8, with support built into the iPhone 6.

Because the Qualcomm LTE chips used in Apple devices since the iPhone 5 natively support voice, it is also possible that existing devices, in addition to the iPhone 6, will be able to offer support for VoLTE following a software update. It does, however, remain unclear if this is a feature that will roll out immediately with the launch of iOS 8 or in a future iOS 8 update in late 2014 or early 2015.

Apple Releases Second OS X Yosemite Public Beta, iTunes 12 Update

Apple today released the second Yosemite public beta for beta testers, following the release of the sixth Developer Preview earlier this week. Apple has also released a new version of iTunes 12 for Yosemite.

The software update, build 14A329r, can be downloaded through the software update function of the Mac App Store.

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It's likely the new public beta bundles the content introduced in the last several developer updates, including multiple design changes added with DP 6. The last beta included new wallpapers, a new System Preferences design, a translucent dashboard, several icon updates, and more.

Apple is expected to release OS X Yosemite to the general public later this year, possibly following an October event that may also introduce both the iWatch and new iPads.

Related roundup: OS X Yosemite

Lawyers Researching Possible Class Action Lawsuit Over 2011 MacBook Pro Graphics Issues

Back in January, we profiled growing concerns from owners of 2011 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro models over failing graphics chips and system crashes. While Apple has assisted some customers with logic board replacements, the issues have been known to reoccur after servicing and some users have been faced with expensive repair bills to address the problem.

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With a Facebook group exceeding 2,200 members and a change.org petition requesting a more substantial response from Apple having surpassed 10,000 signatures, the issue appears to be a fairly widespread one, and now lawyers are getting involved in the situation.

Attorneys from Washington, DC-based Whitfield Bryson & Mason LLP have addressed the Facebook group, launching a survey to gather information from affected MacBook Pro owners as the firm considers a possible class action lawsuit.
Alerted to the pervasive failures concerning the 2011 MBP GPU’s, we commenced an investigation leading us to your community.

Your posts are a great source of information, but to determine if any legal claims may exist, we need your help. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey below.
The firm touts its experience with lawsuits against other technology companies including topics such as Google Buzz privacy issues, Lenovo IdeaPad hardware problems, and more. While it is not certain that a class action suit will be filed against Apple, it's clear the issue is a substantial one.

The discrete graphics chips used in the affected machines are from AMD, and Apple previously launched a replacement program for AMD graphics cards used in 27-inch iMacs from a similar time period. While the graphics chips used in the two machines are different, the iMac repair program indicates that Apple would be willing to launch a similar program for the MacBook Pro if it is able to diagnose the issue and be convinced the problem requires such a program. Typically such programs provide for free repairs and reimbursement for those who had previously paid for repairs to fix the issue.

Apple Reveals Furthers Details on Reversible USB Cable With Flexible Internal Connector

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today published another Apple patent application that describes a reversible USB connector with a "double orientation design." (Via AppleInsider) Today's patent application, filed in February and titled "Reversible USB Connector with Compliant Member to Spread Stress and Increase Contact Normal Force," differs slightly from a separate application made a few weeks earlier by highlighting a key design detail that adds flexibility to the USB connector contacts.

According to the patent description, the USB connector would feature a flexible tongue allowing it to bend to fit an existing USB port regardless of the insertion orientation. This flexible plug connector was mentioned briefly in the January patent, but Apple has expanded upon this idea in this latest patent application to address various types of support elements that would minimize stress on the flexible portion of the tongue while still ensuring strong contact between the connector and a USB port.
As mentioned previously, some plug connectors of the present invention may include structural support elements made from materials chosen to allow plug connector tongues to deflect. Connector 1610 may also include a structural support element, e.g., a structural support 1635. Structural support 1635 may provide flexure to PCB 1632 to reduce stress and fatigue on PCB 1632 and allow tongue 1630, along with PCB 1632, to deflect toward and away from first or second inner surfaces 1620a, 1620b during insertion/extraction events. In order to provide this flexure, structural support 1635 may be made from an elastomer that deforms in response to stress, e.g., a mating event, but holds tongue 1630 centrally located between first and second inner surfaces 1620a, 1620b otherwise.
As shown in the patent drawings, Apple's solution allows the contact portion of the tongue to be thicker and sturdier, while positioning it on a thinner, flexible "stalk". This stalk will deflect in either direction in order to provide room for mating with existing USB ports while maintaining a strong connection with the contacts.

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Apple's proposed USB connector with tongue showing durable contact portion (1939) on a thin, flexible stalk

This flexible tongue provides a distinct advantage over current solutions from competing products, which typically use a rigid tongue that has been slimmed down to fit existing USB ports. Though these cables can be inserted in either orientation, the very thin tongue is susceptible to breakage. With Apple's proposed solution, the contact portion of the tongue can be thicker and more durable, with the flexible portion of the tongue minimizing the possibility of breakage and providing room for the thicker tongue to still fit in either orientation.

Recently leaked photos and videos suggest Apple may be working on a new Lightning cable with this reversible USB connector. These cables may ship with future iOS devices and also may contain other features such as support for high-definition audio playback on Made For iPhone (MFi) audio accessories.

Leaked Schematics Suggest 128 GB Storage Option for iPhone 6

Leaked schematics from phone repair company GeekBar (via G 4 Games) suggest Apple may be preparing to release a 128 GB iPhone 6 model. An accompanying part supply list contains entries for NAND flash modules from Toshiba and Hynix in capacities of 16 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB. The 32 GB storage option is notably absent from the list, although the reason for its exclusion is unknown.

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Previous rumors have suggested Apple has been working on a 128 GB iPhone model, with one rumor claiming the higher capacity module would debut in the 5.5-inch model only. The same leak also predicted Apple would drop the 16 GB option, introducing a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 model with two storage options (32 and 64 GB) and a 5.5-inch model with three storage capacities (32, 64 and 128 GB).

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This new parts list from GeekBar appears to refute that claim, opening the door for Apple to add the 128 GB model as a fourth storage option for consumers. Apple launched its first 128 GB iOS device in early 2013 with a mid-cycle upgrade to the fourth-generation iPad. The option expanded across the iPad lineup with the October 2013 introduction of the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display, which also are available in 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB capacities. The 128 GB option has, however, yet to make its way into the smaller iPhone and iPod touch form factors.

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

New Photos Claim to Show Various Internal Parts from iPad Air 2

New photos shared by French Apple news website iPhonote (Google Translate) claim to show a number of components for the upcoming iPad Air 2, including the device's GPS antenna, microphone, and Wi-Fi module. While previous leaks have shown off the device's front panel and rear shell, these images could be the first look at the various internal components in the iPad Air 2.

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Purported iPad Air 2 GPS antenna, microphone, and WiFi module

The website also posted a variety of comparison images between each component for the iPad Air 2 and its corresponding part on the current iPad Air. While no major changes can be immediately spotted from any of the comparisons, it does appear that the next-generation iPad Air's GPS antenna is longer than its predecessor. Also shown are pictures of the iPhone 6's front panel, which appear similar to prior leaks of the component.

Apple is expected to announce the iPad Air 2 alongside the next-generation Retina iPad mini at an event this fall. A report from Re/code claimed that Apple would be unveiling the iWatch at an October event, which may also include the introduction of both new iPads. The iPad Air 2 may feature a thinner design thanks to an integrated display, anti-reflective coating, a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, a faster A8 processor, and 2 GB of RAM.

Related roundup: iPad Air

New Research Claims iMessage Accounts for 30% of Mobile Spam Messages

iMessage is responsible for more than 30% of all spam messages on mobile devices, according to research done by security expert Tom Landesman and anti-spam company Cloudmark (via Wired). The researcher notes that there are multiple reasons as to why the platform has become a prime choice for spammers, stating that iMessage's reach across the iPhone, iPad, and Mac along with its accessibility have made it easy to target users:
That fusion of the desktop and mobile world makes it particularly easy for scammers to write a Mac OS script that can send messages to all types of devices just as fast as Apple will allow. “It’s almost like a spammer’s dream,” says Landesman. “With four lines of code, using Apple scripts, you can tell your Mac machine to send message to whoever they want.”
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With iMessage, spammers can send unwanted messages to a user's associated emails and phone numbers if enabled. The ability for the desktop Messages client to verify numbers with the iMessage network has also made sending spam to confirmed users easier, along with the fact that signing up for the service can be done with just an email. The researcher further notes that iMessage's read receipts feature (which can be turned off) allows spammers to better generate a list of verified users to spam based on activity.

Apple has made a few moves to combat spam in iMessage over the past year, adding a rate-limit for sent messages after some iOS developers experienced a denial-of-service prank, and adding a spam reporting tool. However, that tool remains a bit complicated to use, as it requires users to send Apple an email containing the screenshot of the spam message, the email or phone number it was received from, and the date and time.

Photo of Possible 5.5-Inch iPhone 6 Rear Shell Surfaces

While we've seen dozens of part leaks for the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, parts for the rumored 5.5-inch version of the device have thus far been scarce, possibly due to the fact that the larger iPhone 6 is said to have entered production later than the 4.7-inch iPhone 6.

Photos depicting what might be the rear shell of the larger device have finally surfaced, however, and have been shared by Evasi0nJailbreak.com. According to the site, the photos have been sourced from "deep within Apple's supply chain in China," and may be only a prototype of the final rear shell.

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Outside of 5.5-inch iPhone 6 rear shell compared to inside of 4.7-inch rear shell

That said, the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 rear shell images, which are compared in the photos to the rear shell of a 4.7-inch iPhone, do resemble early images of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 rear shell, depicting thick antenna breaks, a rounded True Tone flash, a cutout for an embedded Apple logo, the camera, and the microphone.

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Inside of 5.5-inch iPhone 6 rear shell compared to outside of 4.7-inch rear shell

More convincingly, the screw holes on the rear shell image accurately match up with the screw holes on an earlier leaked image of a logic board said to be for the 5.5-inch iPhone 6, so this may be our first look at a true 5.5-inch iPhone 6 rear shell.

Apple is expected to introduce the iPhone 6 at an event on September 9, but it is unclear whether the company will show off both the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models at the same time. If the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 does make an appearance at the event, it may not ship to customers until several months after the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 ships due to production delays.

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

Second-Generation iPad Air May Get Memory Boost to 2 GB

Apple's second-generation iPad Air may get a memory upgrade, bumping it up to 2 GB of RAM instead of the 1 GB in the current-generation device, reports Taiwan's TechNews [Google Translate] (via iPhone in Canada). According to the site, the increased RAM will be limited to the iPad Air, as the second-generation Retina iPad mini is expected to continue to offer 1 GB of RAM.

Apple began offering 1 GB of RAM with the third generation iPad, keeping the same amount of memory in the fourth-generation device and the fifth-generation iPad Air. With such a long span of time between memory upgrades, customers have been wondering when Apple might opt to bump up the RAM in its tablet lineup.

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iPad Air 2 mockup with Touch ID home button

Previous generations of the iPad have likely not seen a memory increase in order to keep costs low, save space, and preserve battery, but with some of the upcoming iOS 8 features, more RAM might be a necessity for smooth performance.

Apple is rumored to be working on split-screen multitasking for the iPad Air, a feature that will certainly be more memory intensive than running a single app at a time. The feature is said to allow two apps to run side-by-side on the iPad in multiple sizes, including 1/4, 1/2, or 3/4. While split-screen multitasking is likely to be available on existing devices, it may run better on Apple's upcoming iPad Air, which is also expected to gain a new A8 processor.

Thus far, rumors have suggested that split-screen multitasking will be limited to the iPad Air, though support may come to the iPhone and the Retina iPad mini at a later date. Split-screen multitasking is unlikely to be ready for iOS 8's fall debut, but it may come as part of an 8.1 update.

Previous concept for split-screen multitasking (not based on specific rumors)

TechNews also shares some information on Apple's upcoming iWatch, suggesting the device will sport 512 MB of internal memory along with 8 GB of storage, which cannot be confirmed with previous rumors as little is known about the device.

TechNews does not have much of a track record when it comes to Apple rumors, and what it has shared has seen mixed outcomes. The site accurately predicted a sapphire cover for the Touch ID home button ahead of the launch of the iPhone 5s, but it also incorrectly suggested the home button would be capacitive.

Apple is said to be planning an October event to unveil the iWatch, even though the device may not ship until late 2014 or early 2015. That October event may also include the debut of the second-generation iPad Air and the second-generation Retina iPad mini.

Related roundup: iPad Air

'NFL Now' Launches on Apple TV With Breaking Football News and Highlights

The National Football League earlier this month officially launched its NFL Now service, its next-generation video streaming service that provides access to the largest digital library of NFL videos available online. The video content can be viewed on the iPhone, iPad, Mac (via a web browser) and other connected devices such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and as of today, the Apple TV channel that was leaked earlier in the month.

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The NFL Now service delivers historic videos, breaking news, game highlights and original programming from the NFL Now studios. Personalization is a key feature -- allowing users to follow their favorite players and teams, with up to 4,800 minutes of team coverage being pushed across their screens each week. The service also will provide live video coverage of important press events and other important moments from the NFL. It will not live stream NFL games that are in progress. Customers who want to watch games as they are happening must download the NFL Mobile app [Direct Link].

NFL Now is available in two tiers, with the free NFL Now service providing access to the core news and video content. Football fans who want even more content and personalization can subscribe to the $1.99 monthly NFL Now Plus service, which offers instant in-game highlights, access to NFL Films videos and the ability to create custom video streams featuring their favorite teams or players.

iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users can download the NFL Now app [Direct Link] from the iOS App Store for free. Mac users can get their fill of NFL coverage via the NFL Now website, while Apple TV channels can access the new channel directly from the main screen on their set-top boxes.

Related roundup: Apple TV

Apple Dominates New EPEAT Tablet Registry After Nearly Withdrawing From Environmental List in 2012

ipad_air_family_20136After almost removing itself from the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) registry two years ago, Apple is now leading the charge into the program's new Tablets/Slates category.

As of today, Apple's four iPad models account for 134 of the 135 tablets on the list, although the number of entries appear to be growing nearly by the minute. While Apple is represented by the various configurations of the iPad Air, the iPad mini, the iPad with Retina display and the iPad mini with Retina display, the sole non-iPad model currently on the list is the Dell Venue 11 Pro.

In a blog post announcing the new category earlier this week, Green Electronics Council CEO Robert Frisbee hailed the early inclusion of more than 100 tablets without mentioning that essentially all of them were Apple products.
We are pleased at Participating Manufacturers’ enthusiasm to register these new products. In less than one week more than 100 slates/tablets have been registered in EPEAT, and we expect to see many more in the weeks and months to come. These products are an exciting addition to EPEAT and an important step into reducing the environmental impacts of a major new product type. We are confident the new products are leaders in their category.
Apple has a bit of a rocky history with EPEAT, notifying the environmental assessment service in 2012 that it was withdrawing its products from the registry. At the time, Apple cited "changes in its design direction which were no longer consistent with the EPEAT requirements" as the reason for this removal request.

Apple quickly reversed its decision after businesses, municipalities and other Apple customers publicly decried the withdrawal decision. EPEAT also responded with a pledge to work with Apple and possibly adapt its judging standards to be more compatible with the company's cutting edge product designs.

Apple's product lineup is now represented in several EPEAT categories, including desktops, notebooks, displays, integrated desktop computers, and tablets/slates. The company has earned a gold star rating for all of its eligible products, including its difficult-to-repair MacBook Pro with Retina display. This controversial gold rating has prompted some groups to accuse EPEAT of lowering its standards in order to include Apple on the list.

Related roundups: iPad Air, iPad mini

Alleged Schematic Shows Protruding Camera Ring on 4.7-Inch iPhone 6

Throughout the past few months, a number of design drawings, physical mockups, and component leaks have hinted at a protruding camera ring camera on the iPhone 6. Initial rumors indicated that the physical feature would be exclusive to the larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6, however recent photos of the 4.7-inch version's rear shell may indicate that it will also include a protruding camera ring.

Now, an alleged schematic shared by Apple.club.tw (Google Translate, via G for Games) once again shows a protruding camera ring on the back of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, which is measured at 0.67-0.77 millimeters. The website also claims that the phone will be 7 millimeters thick, which lines up with the most recent leak showing off the device's rear shell and front panel for the first time.

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Additionally, it is claimed that the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 has been given a codename of N56, while the 5.5-inch version is known as N61. This is in line with the code names of prior iPhones, as the CDMA version of the iPhone 4 was known as N92. However, no additional evidence suggests that N56 and N61 are the exact code names of both iPhone 6 models.

Apple will unveil the iPhone 6 on September 9, with a launch for the 4.7-inch version likely coming about a week or so after. It is possible that the 5.5-inch model may launch alongside its smaller counterpart, however production issues may push back its release until late next year or 2015.

Both models of the iPhone 6 will likely incorporate a faster A8 processor, a thinner, rounded chassis, and iOS 8. The camera on the iPhone 6 will also be improved, featuring a unified, round dual-LED "True Tone" flash and some form of image stabilization.

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