Flipboard for iOS Updated with New 'Topics' Feature and Redesigned Look

Flipboard today updated its iOS app to version 3.0, bringing a refreshed design along with a number of new features for gathering and consuming content. The app now allows users to choose from over 30,000 topics to follow, with each topic containing stories from publishers, websites, and magazines curated on Flipboard. The service is also launching an in-app section called The Daily Edition, which is delivered to users at 7 a.m. daily and features articles that are picked by Flipboard's staff.

With over 30,000 topics now available, your Flipboard can be as unique as you are. Topics range from “action hero” to “zoology” (and everything in-between), and you can find them via search or by tapping on the new topic tags on articles. Press “follow” every time you want to add something (or someone) to your Flipboard and watch as your experience becomes tailored to your life.

Want to catch up on the news in a fast, definitive way? Meet The Daily Edition, a carefully curated roundup of top headlines in news, business, tech, sports and culture, along with some fun elements, like a daily track and a Parting GIF to send you off on your day with a smile.
Flipboard's version 2.0 update last year included the ability to collect and save content into "magazines" and support for notifications. Flipboard is a free app for iOS devices and can be downloaded through the App Store. [Direct Link]

Beats by Dre Debuts Special Edition Hello Kitty Headphones for 40th Anniversary

Apple's Beats by Dre headphones brand is teaming up with Sanrio to offer two special edition Hello Kitty-themed products to commemorate Hello Kitty's 40th anniversary (via CNET).

Beats has designed new Solo2 over-the-ear headphones that feature an all-over Hello Kitty print in a signature red, white, and blue color scheme, plus new urBeats in-ear earphones that feature the same colors along with a bow decoration and a matching bow-shaped collector's pouch.

The new Hello Kitty x Beats Solo2 headphones will retail for $249.95, while the urBeats will sell for $149.95, a $50 premium over standard Solo2 and urBeat pricing. While both products are listed on the Beats website, they won't be available to purchase until after they debut at the upcoming Hello Kitty Con 2014 on October 30 in Los Angeles.

Buyer's Guide: 20% Off iTunes Gift Cards, Halloween Discounts on Most Mophie, Speck, and Griffin Products

In celebration of Halloween, which takes place on Friday, retailers are offering some significant discounts on their products. Mophie, for example, is offering 20 percent off all of its products with the promo code LIVINGDEAD, with the discount valid until 11/2.

Speck is offering a similar deal, providing customers with 20 percent off all products aside from iPhone 6 and 6 Plus cases with the promo code TRICKORTREAT. Speck's deal will last until 10/31.

Griffin is offering 20 percent off all products sidewide using the promo code SPOOKY20. The sale will last through the end of the week.

Along with those three deals, PayPal Digital Gifts is offering 20% off iTunes cards from eBay, dropping the price of a $25 card to $20, a $50 code to $40, and a $100 code to $80. The codes are delivered digitally and customers looking to get a discount on an iTunes card should act fast as PayPal-discounted iTunes cards rarely last long.

MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors.

How to Use AirDrop to Share Files Between Macs and iOS Devices

Apple's AirDrop file-sharing feature debuted with the release of OS X Lion and allowed users to transfer files from one Mac to another without using email or an external storage device. The feature made its way to iOS devices with the release of iOS 7, and offered a simple way for users to share files like photos between iOS devices. Now, with the release OS X Yosemite, users can use AirDrop to transfer files between the Mac and an iOS device for the first time.

This video shows you how it works:

Prior to the release of OS X Yosemite, users looking to transfer files between a Mac and iOS device usually had to resort to a third-party service like Dropbox or use an iCloud-connected app like Messages. AirDrop on OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 provides an easy-to-use solution for transferring files, as users can either drag and drop files from the Mac to iOS or move files from iOS to the Mac using the Share feature.

On the Mac, a number of apps like Safari, Preview, Pages, and Contacts support the Share feature. Third-party Mac apps like Deliveries, Ember, and Notability also feature Share support, allowing content to be transferred via AirDrop. On iOS, most of Apple's stock apps including Photos, Safari, Notes, and Maps feature Share support. Third-party apps including Camera+, Evernote, and eBay also support the feature.

Related roundups: OS X Yosemite, iOS 8, iOS 8 Features

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Pandora and Spotify Lead App Store Music Rankings as Beats Continues to Lag

Apple bought Beats Music to improve its standing in the streaming music marketplace, but the Cupertino company has its work cut out if it wants to compete with high-profile rivals Spotify and Pandora. According to App Annie metrics cited by CNET, Beats Music continues to trail its rivals in two important App Store metrics -- downloads and revenue.

In the App Annie download rankings, Beats Music places ninth behind other music apps such as Shazam, GarageBand, SoundCloud and iHeartRadio. This lower ranking is undoubtedly affected by service pricing, as Beats Music requires a subscription while both Pandora and Spotify offer free, ad-supported options in their mobile apps.

By revenue, Apple's Beats Music benefits from its subscription model, ranking third behind market leaders Pandora Radio, which grabs the number one spot, and number two Spotify. The revenues measured in these metrics compromise only App Store payments to download the app and in-app purchases which include monthly subscription fees. It does not account for additional sources of revenue, such as advertising which is used extensively by Spotify and Pandora. Still, Beats is showing some improvement according to App Annie's statistics, moving up three spots on the revenue chart.

Apple purchased Beats Music as part of a larger $3 billion acquisition that also included Beats' popular line of audio products. Apple reportedly is planning to overhaul the Beats Music service with a refresh slated to debut early next year. The company allegedly also is in negotiations with music industry executives about slashing the monthly subscription cost, perhaps as much as in half to $5 per month.

Apple in Talks With Distributors to Sell iPhone in Iran

iphone_6_6_plus_compApple is in talks with Iranian distributors that could see the iPhone being sold in the country should Western sanctions lift sufficiently, reports The Wall Street Journal. Senior Apple executives have reportedly met with Iranian distributors at its London headquarters to speak about potentially having Iranian retailers distribute Apple products as premium resellers.
In the conversations, the Cupertino, Calif., company explored the possibility of having Iranian partners sell Apple products at so-called premium resellers, three of the people said. Instead of company-operated Apple stores, such outlets would be midsize franchisees that sell Apple products only, —a model the company has used in Europe and Asia, the people said.

The contacts have involved over a dozen Apple employees, including technical and marketing professionals, the people said.
The United States has imposed sanctions that prevent companies from doing business with Iran, but in May, sanctions that prevented the sales of consumer communications equipment and software such as smartphones and laptops were lifted. The sanctions were removed in an effort to give Iranians a way to communicate on social media and through other channels to overcome communications restrictions enacted by Iranian authorities. This change potentially opens the door for sales of the iPhone and other Apple products in the country.

Apple is said to have consulted the U.S. Treasury's Office of Frozen Assets Control to ascertain how it could start operations in Iran and establish a relationship with Iran-based customers.

As noted by The Wall Street Journal, Iran may be seen as an attractive market to Apple as the country has a population of 77 million with 42 percent of people under the age of 25, along with a large middle class. There are obstacles that could make it difficult for Apple to sell iPhones in the country, however, including banking restrictions, locating mobile-service providers, and more.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Taco Bell Launches Mobile Ordering App for iPhone

Taco Bell today launched a newly updated Live Mas Taco Bell mobile app that's designed to allow Taco Bell diners to place and customize their orders ahead of their arrival at the restaurant. After downloading the app, those seeking a Cheesy Gordita Crunch, Doritos Locos Tacos Supreme, or other food item from Taco Bell can tap log in or start a session as a guest.

From there, tapping on the "Order" button will bring up a list of all the Taco Bell restaurants that are located nearby, and selecting one will bring up a store's individual menu. After selecting a location, scrolling downwards will provide a list of food options that have been organized into separate categories like Breakfast, Combos, Tacos, Burritos, and more.

Taco Bell(R) Mobile Ordering is Here. Customize. Order. Pay. All from the new app. Now you can easily select a local Taco Bell, customize your favorite items and pay for your order. No need to select a pick-up time. We make your food when you arrive because just-prepared food is the best. Then skip the in-store line like you own the place. Plus, reordering your favorites is as easy as a twist of the wrist.
Every food order contains customization options so that it can be prepared to a customer's specification. For example, with the Waffle, it comes with sausage, cheese, egg, and syrup, any of which can be removed. There's also an option to add extra of any ingredient, and there are options for add-ons like nacho cheese sauce, sour cream, onions, tomatoes, and more. While some options are free, many add an additional cost to an order.

According to Taco Bell, while an order can be placed ahead of time, it is not cooked until a customer arrives at the restaurant they selected and checks in, at which point the employees begin preparing the meal to ensure freshness. Mobile orderers will not need to stand in the Taco Bell line upon arrival, and will be called up to the mobile counter when their meal is ready. Payments are made in the app with a credit card.

The app has options to allow users to sign in to track their most recent orders, which makes re-ordering the same meal easy, and there are e-gift options that let customers send gift cards. Another helpful feature is the Nutritional Info, which lists the calorie content of all of Taco Bell's offerings.

Taco Bell has been working on adding mobile ordering capabilities to its app for several months now, with the first news of an updated app coming back in February. At that time, Taco Bell's mobile lead Jeff Jenkins said that mobile is becoming increasingly important to quick service restaurants. "If you can get 10 million people to download your app, you're putting a portal to Taco Bell in 10 million pockets," he said.

Taco Bell's revamped iOS app can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Apple Adds 'Fyi' and 'Feeln' Channels to Apple TV

In yet another addition to the growing stable of channels available on the Apple TV, A&E's Fyi network and Hallmark's streaming family movie channel Feeln have been added to the set-top box today.

As with many other channels, Fyi offers some free content, but complete access to streaming on-demand episodes requires authentication with a participating cable provider. The television, which launched as a rebranding of The Biography Channel earlier this year, focuses on "contemporary lifestyle" topics.

Feeln's subscription service is priced at $4.99 per month with a one-week free trial or $47.99 per year with a one-month free trial. The service offers reasonable library of family-friend movies for streaming, including some box office hits, Hallmark originals, and original shorts.


Related roundup: Apple TV

Longtime Apple-Exclusive Studio Algoriddim Brings 'Djay' to Android

Longtime Apple-exclusive developer Algoriddim has made a name for itself with its popular djay app that first found success on the Mac before moving to iPad and eventually iPhone. The app has been featured prominently by Apple over the years, winning an Apple Design Award in 2011 for the original iPad version, and just this month it was featured as a key music app in promotional materials for the new iPad Air 2.

So after such a long tenure and significant success on OS X and iOS, we were interested to learn that Algoriddim is announcing today an expansion to Android, bringing the full djay experience to that platform. While Algoriddim is by no means the first iOS developer to branch out to Android, it is a high-profile, award-winning one and so we chatted a bit with Algoriddim CEO Karim Morsy to find out more about the how and why of the company's move, a perspective not frequently shared at MacRumors.

Morsy pointed out that with, or perhaps despite, 15 million downloads on iOS, the number one request from djay users has long been an Android version of the app. With a strong presence on the Mac platform as well, Algoriddim found plenty of Mac and/or iPad users who use Android phones and have been asking Algoriddim in large numbers to bring the app to their phones.

Rather than a simple port of the iOS version of djay, Algoriddim built the Android version of the app from the ground up, replicating the look and feel of the iOS version wherever possible while bringing feature and performance parity, something that was not always a given considering the pace with which proper tools and frameworks for Android were becoming available. But with the release of Android 4.0 three years ago, Algoriddim finally felt the tools were in place to pursue bringing djay to Android.

Morsy expected development to be challenging, and indeed it was, particularly ensuring that djay worked well across the variety of devices running Android, with the diversity of screen sizes and performance-related specs requiring significant amounts of work to optimize for.

We also asked Morsy whether Algoriddim is expecting any backlash from Apple with the expansion of djay to Android, given that Apple likes to tout apps and other content that is exclusive to its own platforms. But Morsy noted that Apple regularly features apps available across multiple platforms and that the history and continued popularity of djay on Mac and iOS is likely to remain a strong factor as Apple weighs future feature opportunities for the music segment.

As was added to djay 2 for iOS earlier this year, djay 2 for Android brings full integration with Spotify's premium music subscription service, including auto-matching of tracks using technology from The Echo Nest, which was acquired by Spotify in March of this year. The Android version of djay 2 launches today at a limited-time introductory price of $2.99, and users will also receive a free one-week trial of Spotify Premium to test out the service with djay.

Tim Cook on iPod Classic: 'We Couldn't Get the Parts Anymore'

ipod_classic_handDuring the Q&A portion of his interview at the WSJ.D conference tonight, Tim Cook was asked about the iPod classic, which was finally discontinued last month five years after its last update.

Cook said Apple primarily stopped making the device because it was no longer possible to source the necessary parts from anywhere in the world. Apple does not have plans to reintroduce the iPod classic due to a shrinking audience and the engineering costs that would be needed for a new version, but Cook pointed towards the iPod touch, which has almost the same amount of storage space, as a viable option.

Observers had speculated Apple was waiting for a 128 GB iPod touch before discontinuing the iPod classic, but while the iPhone and iPad have gained 128 GB options, the iPod touch has yet to do so. Still, with Apple unable to source parts for the iPod classic, the company was left with no choice but to end sales of the descendent of the original iPod.

The iPod classic's 1.8-inch hard drives were typically supplied by Toshiba, with the last generation using a 160 GB drive. Toshiba launched a 220 GB version in early 2011 that gave some hope the iPod classic might receive an update, but one never came to pass and Toshiba has long since discontinued its entire line of 1.8-inch hard drives.

Concept Video Demonstrates Apple Watch-Style Interface on iPhone

Apple's upcoming wearable, the Apple Watch, takes advantage of a unique interface that arranges apps with circular icons in a cluster-based design for quick and easy access with the device's included Digital Crown, or scroll wheel.

YouTuber Lucas Menge has created a mockup of what the Apple Watch interface might look like when translated to a larger device, like the iPhone. As with the Apple Watch, Menge's concept lets users zoom in and out on the app landscape, viewing one small cluster of apps or all the apps installed on the device.

The interface incorporates app names, which deviates from the design on the Apple Watch, and simple swipes allow users to scroll through the apps installed on the phone. Tapping when zoomed out will zoom into the area that's been tapped, and when zoomed in, a tap on an icon launches an app.

Menge, whose design was inspired by a mockup post created by 9to5Mac's Michael Steeber, has published his prototype code for the design on GitHub. Apple Watch, with its unique Watch OS operating system, will be available beginning in early 2015.

Pre-Orders for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Top 100,000 in South Korea, Outpace Samsung Galaxy Note 4 [Updated]

Pre-order estimates for Apple's iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in South Korea have topped 100,000 in South Korea and have outpaced pre-orders made for the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 last month, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Pre-orders for both devices began last Friday for the country's three biggest mobile carriers including SK Telecom, KT Corp and LG UPlus. KT Corp said that it received a combined total of 10,000 orders in one minute for both devices, and received 50,000 orders in thirty minutes. LG UPlus, which is controlled by LG Corporation and is selling the iPhone for the first time, said that it received 20,000 orders within 20 minutes. SK Telecom declined to give specific figures, but announced that the first and second batch of pre-orders were already booked by customers with a third round beginning this morning.

The report notes that there were 30,000 pre-orders for the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 before it launched in Korea last month. A spokesperson for LG UPlus shared a similar account, noting that pre-orders for the Galaxy Note 4 did not match the pace of pre-orders for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will launch in South Korea and 22 other countries on October 31st. Apple also expects to launch in the iPhone in 115 countries by the end of the year, totaling to its fastest rollout ever.

Update: As noted by a number of readers, Samsung intentionally limited launch quantities of the Note 4 in Korea to 30,000 units, making a valid comparison essentially impossible. Apple's numbers also include both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, while the Note 4 most directly competes with only the iPhone 6 Plus.

Related roundup: iPhone 6