Apple Still Tweaking iTunes Music Store Algorithms, Restored Editorial Focus Pleases Indies

Following several months of experimentation with how it curates the music portion of its iTunes Store, Apple has rolled back some of those changes to restore an emphasis on editorial rather than sales-based criteria, according to Billboard.

The news comes after a few independent record labels voiced concern over their artists being lost under the better-performing singers and albums of bigger labels. The company has apparently to not fully eliminate sales-based algorithms for deciding on what content to feature, but have "toned down" that aspect to allow editorial discretion to once again steer the offerings on iTunes' main page.

iTunes
After a few weeks of experimenting with that presentation, the iTunes teamed toned down the algorithm and re-asserted the role that editorial discretion has in choosing which music is highlighted in the store. "iTunes will always be driven by editorial discretion," says a source who is familiar with Apple's online store philosophy. "Editorial choice will always be at the heart of what music is featured in the store."
Despite the introduction of the sales-focused algorithm towards the end of 2014 and into the new year, the indie music market still found itself fairly well-represented on the storefront. As Billboard reports, the sector got 40 percent of carousel ads on the main page of iTunes, 50 percent of the "New Music" section, 37 percent of the "Hot Tracks" section, and 20 percent of what Apple calls the "Bricks", the rectangular-shaped ads populating the store.
Indie labels were worried that they would get lost in the shuffle with all the changes happening in the iTunes Store. They were concerned that a sales velocity algorithm playing a strong role in determining what would be featured in its sliders would bolster the advantage of the majors, who tend to have bigger-selling records.
Various other concerns of smaller labels were alleviated, as well, including iTunes' ongoing effort to clean up song duplicates in the storefront, to an extent where some songs were taken down despite being in compliance with the company's rules. But, as one indie executive noted, if a proper case is made to bring back the music, Apple will listen. "iTunes are flexible; they are not an account who says 'its our way or the highway.'"

Perhaps the biggest shift on the back-end of iTunes relates to how pre-order numbers factor into album sales. Previously, pre-order numbers were added to launch day sales, rocketing popular pre-release albums to the top of charts on release. The new configuration wipes pre-order figures away on launch day and starts all albums on level ground, requiring albums to garner successful day one-and-onward launches to hit the top spots.

Apple has been steadily building up iTunes in preparation for the future integration with Beats Music this year. The company has most recently hired BBC Radio DJ Zane Lowe to possibly work on its iTunes Radio service and acquired media analytics company Semetric to integrate its Musicmetric tracking service into the iTunes/Beats refresh. Apple has also been seeking expertise in music journalism, perhaps to fill out editorial content appearing alongside listings in the iTunes Store.

iCloud Photo Library: What You Need to Know

With today's launch of the public beta of OS X 10.10.3 and the new Photos app for Mac, a number of users are now getting their first tastes of Apple's replacement for iPhoto and Aperture. The release will also complete the rollout of Apple's cross-platform iCloud Photo Library service, offering users an easy way to keep all of their photos stored in the cloud and synced across their devices. Various pieces of the service have been in beta since iOS 8.0 was made available to developers last June.

What Is iCloud Photo Library?


While Apple has offered some iCloud photo services such as Photo Streams for some time, iCloud Photo Library is a new service still in beta that moves the user's entire photo and video library into the cloud. The service is part of Apple's push to make it as easy as possible for users to switch among Mac and iOS devices throughout the day, making the user's photos are available on all of their devices and ensuring any changes get quickly synced across devices.

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Initially planned to launch as part of iOS 8.0, Apple pushed the service back to beta ahead of the public release as the company continued to refine the service and work on cross-platform capabilities. The Mac portion was also not ready for the public release of OS X Yosemite last October, but with the new Photos app for Mac ready for launch, all of the pieces are falling into place for iCloud Photo Library.

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Case Logic Video Review: Hands-On With the Ibira MacBook Backpack

Case Logic is known its line of backpacks, cases, and other storage accessories, all of which are priced affordably, making it quite popular with people looking for inexpensive but quality solutions for carrying around their devices.

We met up with Case Logic at CES this year, where the company had a large booth showcasing all of its products, including the Ibira backpack, one of its newest offerings. We went hands-on with the Ibira backpack in our latest video review, so check it out to see what we thought.


The Ibira is a lightweight, slim backpack but we were impressed with what it was able to hold. We fit in a MacBook, an iPad, an Apple keyboard, an iPhone, several chargers and accessories, a water bottle, and several notebooks. Build wise, the backpack is made of a high quality material that feels like it will stand up to heavy usage, but the straps were a bit too thin and could use more padding to be comfortable.

Case Logic's Ibira Backpack is available in black and anthracite from the Case Logic website for $29.99.

Apple's iTunes Team Seeking Expertise in 'Music Journalism' Ahead of Rumored Revamp

Earlier in the month, Apple's London-based iTunes team posted a job listing describing an "Editorial Producer" who would have past experience reporting on pop culture, with specific background in music journalism (via Music Ally). While far from definitive, the job post could be hinting at some editorial-related expansions coming to the revamped Beats/iTunes merger set to launch later in the year.

Set to be split between editorial and producing duties, the full-time job would require the applicant to write, edit, and oversee a group of various freelance writers covering content from music to books and movies. A good portion of the job will be devoted to "special projects and promotions" as well, with a focus on collaboration between other departments to make sure all of the content is successfully produced on time.

iTunes
Key Qualifications

-Excellent communication, cross-departmental collaboration, and planning skills with a strict attention to detail.
-Seasoned writer with broad pop culture background.
-Deep contacts in the freelance world with writers who can cover the spectrum of pop culture (music, movies, books, etc.).
-Experience managing and motivating a stable of freelance writers.
-Experience working cross-functionally across content, business, and production teams.
-Project management experience.
Apple has been hinting at big changes coming to iTunes, with the company acquiring media analytic service Semetric, and BBC Radio host DJ Zane Lowe joining the company ahead of the big Beats Music revamp. As Music Ally points out, the new job posting could be pointing to an even bigger expansion for the service in terms of an original journalistic effort.

As it stands, Apple's iTunes, iBooks, and App Store point users in the direction of various top-selling or most popular music, books, movies, and apps with occasionally short "iTunes Editors' Notes" detailing new and favorite releases amongst the services. Despite the fact the new post seems to be pointing to an attempt by the company to add original content and opinions to their download service, as with any job listing, it's far from a confirmation that this will be a direction the company takes in the future.

Though the exact timeline for the launch of the new Apple-backed Beats Music service has remained blurry, news concerning the service has remained steadily consistent since its announcement. Most recently it was reported that the Beats Music revamp would see a fairly deep integration into OS X and iOS, with users possibly even being able to merge their Apple ID with a Beats account for a more seamless experience.

Mac Pro Buyer's Guide: Which Model to Choose

Apple's Mac Pro is quite an impressive machine. It doesn't look like any other computer; it's a work of art with its sleek, cylindrical body. It's fast, fast, fast. And it's expensive.

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The Mac Pro isn't for everybody, and not just because it's Apple's highest-priced computer. It is made to excel with a certain type of app: professional software that uses multiple processing cores, like software commonly used by videographers, photographers, animators, designers, scientists, and musicians. If that describes what you do on a daily basis, then you'll benefit from a Mac Pro -- you'll make your money back in time saved.

This guide takes a look at the Mac Pro's specifications, design, and performance. If you're in the market for a Mac Pro and you're not sure which model to buy, this guide will help you sort it all out.

Specifications


Apple offers two standard configurations. You can pick one of the standard configurations, but the Mac Pro is all about custom configurations. Think of the standard configurations as a starting point, and you can then customize your order to better suit your needs.

intel-xeonThe $2999 Mac Pro:
  • 3.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor
  • 12GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC memory
  • Dual 2GB AMD FirePro D300 graphics cards
  • 256GB PCIe-based flash storage
The $3999 Mac Pro:
  • 3.5GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor
  • 16GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC memory
  • Dual 3GB AMD FirePro D500 graphics cards
  • 256GB PCIe-based flash storage

amd-graphics-chipsApple offers the following upgrades for the Mac Pro:
  • 3.0GHz 8-core processor or 2.7GHz 12-core processor ($500 to $3,500 extra)
  • 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of RAM ($100 to $1,300 extra)
  • 512GB or 1TB of flash storage ($300 to $800 extra)
  • Dual 6GB AMD FirePro D700 graphics cards ($1000 extra)
As you can see, building a fully-loaded top-of-the-line Mac Pro can get expensive. Based on the add-ons you choose, your Mac Pro could cost up to $9,599.

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Related roundup: Mac Pro

Buyer's Guide: Deals on iMac, iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3, Apple Accessories, and More

Following Valentine's Day, deals are a bit sparse, but there are still some discounts to be had on the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3. Best Buy is also continuing to offer discounts on its stock of now-discontinued higher-capacity iPad Air and iPad mini 2 models, and several sites have cut the prices on the Retina MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air.

We've also got some discounts on Apple accessories, including an exclusive discount on iPad, iPhone, and MacBook skins from SkinIt for MacRumors readers.

iPad Air 2


B&H Photo is offering up to $60 off its entire stock of iPad Air 2 models, dropping the price of the entry-level 16GB Wi-Fi only iPad Air 2 to $464. Discounts vary based on model, but the lowest discount is $35 and the highest is $60 off the 128GB Wi-Fi only iPad Air 2.

iPad Air


Best Buy still has a few now-discontinued higher-capacity iPad Air models available at low prices.

- iPad Air Cellular Silver 64GB (AT&T) - $499.99
- iPad Air Cellular Silver 128GB (AT&T) - $599.99
- iPad Air Cellular Space Gray 128GB (AT&T) - $599.99
- iPad Air Cellular Silver 64GB (Verizon) - $566.99
- iPad Air Cellular Space Gray 64GB (Verizon) - $566.99

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iPad mini 3


Best Buy is discounting its stock of 16GB iPad mini 3 models by $50, dropping the price on cellular versions to $479.99 and the price of Wi-Fi only versions to $349.99.

iPad mini 2


Best Buy still has a few now-discontinued higher-capacity iPad mini 2 models available at low prices.

- iPad mini 2 Cellular AT&T Silver 64GB - $399.99
- iPad mini 2 Cellular AT&T Space Gray 128GB - $499.99
- iPad mini 2 Cellular AT&T Silver 128GB - $499.99
- iPad mini 2 Cellular Verizon Silver 64GB - $424.99
- iPad mini 2 Cellular Verizon Space Gray 128GB - $566.99

iMac


- 21.5-inch 1.4Ghz/8GB/500GB (Best Buy) (B&H Photo) - $999, $100 off
- 21.5-inch 2.7GHz/8GB/1TB (Best Buy) (B&H Photo) - $1,179, $120 off
- 21.5-inch 2.9GHz/8GB/1TB (Adorama) - $1,389, $100 off
- 27-inch 3.2GHz/8GB/1TB (Adorama) - $1,689, $110 off
- 27-inch 3.4GHz/8GB/1TB (Adorama) (B&H Photo) - $1,794, $205 off
- 27-inch 3.5Ghz/8GB/1TB Retina iMac (Adorama) (B&H Photo) (MacMall) - $2,349, $150 off

imac_retina_waterfall

MacBook Air


- 11-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/128GB (B&H Photo) (Adorama) - $819, $50 off
- 11-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/256GB (B&H Photo) (Adorama) - $999, $100 off
- 13-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/128GB (B&H Photo (Adorama) - $919, $80 off
- 13-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/256GB (B&H Photo) (Adorama) - $1,099, $100 off

macbook_air_yosemite_roundup

Retina Macbook Pro


- 13-inch 2.6GHz/8GB/128GB (Adorama) (B&H Photo) - $1,189, $100 off
- 13-inch 2.6GHz/8GB/256GB (B&H Photo) (Adorama) - $1,399, $100 off
- 13-inch 2.8GHz/8GB/512GB (Adorama) (B&H Photo) - $1,599, $200 off
- 15-inch 2.2GHz/16GB/256GB (Best Buy) (Adorama) (B&H Photo) - $1,799.99, $200 off
- 15-inch 2.5GHz/16GB/512GB - (Best Buy) (Adorama) (B&H Photo) - $2,249.99, $200 off

macbook_pro_13_15_late_2013

Apps


There are quite a few apps that are on sale at discounted prices or available for free for a limited time. We'll highlight a few here, but make sure to check out our sister site AppShopper for a complete list.

Calcbot, which just got an update, is currently available for free. Gunship X, normally $0.99, is free this week. Tactical game Frozen Synapse, normally priced at $9.99, is also free.

Duet Game is available for free this week as Apple's App of the Week pick. It's regularly priced at $2.99.

Apple Accessories


Groupon is selling a 3.3-foot Lightning cable plus a 5-watt power adapter for $14.99, down from the regular combined price of $38. The site also has the leather iPad Smart Cover for iPad 2, 3, and 4 for $12.99, down from $69. Woot is selling the Sony portable Bluetooth dock for $129.99, down from $249.

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The JBL OnBeat Mini Speaker Dock for iPhone 5/5s/6/6 Plus and iPad is available for $39.99 from Groupon, an 80 percent discount off its regular price. Woot is selling the Mophie Juice Pack Helium cases for the iPhone 5/5s for $29.99, down from the regular price of $79.95. LivingSocial is selling the Speck CandyShell Grip case for iPad mini for $14.99, down from $44.95.

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The Jawbone Big Jambox is available for $187.99 from Woot, down from its regular price of $299. The Ion iCade Arcade Bluetooth cabinet is available for $79.99 from Amazon, $55 off its regular price of $129.99.

icade
SkinIt, a site that makes custom skins for a wide range of devices from the iPhone to the MacBook, is offering a special deal buy one get one 50 percent off deal for MacRumors readers. With the code MACRUMORS, you can get 50% off a second skin after purchasing one skin.

MacMall is offering discounts on several monitors. The 32-inch Acer B326HK 4K monitor is available for $879.99, $120 off. The ASUS Professional Graphics 27" WQHD 2560 x 1440 LED-Backlit PLS Monitor is available for $439.97, $270 off. The Dell 27" Ultra HD 4K Monitor is available for $579.99, $120 off.

MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors.

Photoshop Celebrates 25th Anniversary With 'Top 25 Under 25' Artist Showcase

Popular image editing tool Adobe Photoshop turns 25 years old today and plans to celebrate by showcasing a collection of artists, all under 25, who use its comprehensive suite of tools in new and unique ways.

Released on February 19, 1990 with a handful of basic editing features, the software has seen massive updates and overhauls throughout the years, with over a dozen major installments to its software since its first launch.

Photoshop
As pointed out by Adobe, the source of the company's continued success in the ever-changing modern world is its "constantly evolving capabilities" that allow its software to be used for everything from coffee mug design to the artwork of a Hollywood blockbuster.
"For 25 years, Photoshop has inspired artists and designers to craft images of stunning beauty and reality-bending creativity," said Shantanu Narayen, Adobe president and chief executive officer. "From desktop publishing, to fashion photography, movie production, website design, mobile app creation and now 3D Printing, Photoshop continues to redefine industries and creative possibilities. And today that Photoshop magic is available to millions of new users, thanks to Adobe Creative Cloud."
Adobe launched a new TV spot for the 25th anniversary, as well, called "Dream On," which it plans to air during The Academy Awards this Sunday. With the Hollywood production theme, the ad includes references to movies like Gone Girl, Avatar, and How To Train Your Dragon 2, and the occasions where each film used Photoshop in the process of the movie's production.


In honor of the occasion, the company is holding a "Top 25 Under 25" artist showcase, with hopefuls uploading their artwork to Behance and using the tag "Ps25Under25" to submit themselves for the top spots. The winning 25 artists in the end will take over Photoshop's Instagram, each given a two week hold over the account, to showcase their work for the world to see. The celebration starts today with artist Fredy Santiago - a 24-year-old Mexican-American artist from California - already uploading some of his work to the social network.

Tag: Photoshop

StackSocial Offers 'Ultra-Premium' Bundle of 8 Mac Apps for $39.99

StackSocial began offering eight Mac apps in its "Ultra-Premium" bundle today, which includes Cultured Code's Things 2, an Apple Design Award winner, and Realmac Software's Typed, which was just released in December. The bundle is priced at $44.99, but StackSocial is offering MacRumors readers a $5 discount with coupon code MRULTRA5, bringing the price down to $39.99.

MacBundle_575x300
The total retail value of all eight apps is $469, so the bundle at $39.99 offers a significant savings compared to buying each app individually. The apps included are:

- ScreenFlow 5 ($99.99) - screen recording tool
- Things 2 ($49) - task manager
- Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth ($49.99) - turn-based strategy game
- ProSoft Data Rescue 4 ($99.99) - data recovery utility
- ExpanDrive 4 ($49.95) - directly access files stored in many popular cloud services
- AfterShot Pro 2 ($79.95) - photo editor
- Typed ($24.95) - text editor
- Snapselect ($24.99) - photo sorter for finding and eliminating duplicate and similar photos

Civilization: Beyond Earth was originally announced for Mac last April and debuted in the Mac App Store in November. ScreenFlow previously won an Apple Design Award several years ago.

The Ultra-Premium Bundle is available until March 5.

MacRumors is an affiliate partner of StackSocial.

EA's 'The Sims 4' Now Available for Mac

As promised in January, the newest game in the EA-owned Sims franchise, The Sims 4, is now available for purchase on the Mac. The Sims 4 initially launched for PC back in September of 2014, but it's taken several months for the company to ready a Mac version of the game.

Like other games in the franchise, The Sims 4 tasks players with the creation and control of the lives of virtual characters. The goal of the game is to guide sims through life, establishing relationships, building homes, advancing through careers, and conquering goals.


The Sims 4 begins with creating a sim with deep customization options. It's possible to randomly create a sim to start the game off in just a few minutes, but for those who would like select each aspect of their sim, the options are available. You can customize facial features, hair, accessories, makeup, and select outfits for every occasion from day to day wear to party wear.

Beyond the physical, creating a sim also involves choosing a name, personality traits that affect how sims interact with other sims, and a lifetime aspiration like reaching the top of a career ladder, having a big family, or hosting amazing parties.

createasim
Once a sim is created and ready to move into the world, the idea is to choose a house and direct your sim through life. With The Sims, the possibilities are endless. Sims can lounge around all day watching TV and being slobs, or pick up a job and pursue a career in several different fields, including crime, business, food, and more.

Sims have a never-ending list of minor achievements that are based on their relationships, personality, and lifetime goal, so gameplay largely involves fulfilling these minor achievements (a goal might be talking to a friend, cooking a meal, or buying a household item), earning money, building families, and progressing through the sim's life. Amidst all of this, it's also necessary to meet a sims' basic needs like hygiene, food, and sleep.

sims4house
Building houses and community lots is the other major aspect of gameplay in The Sims, and in The Sims 4, a lot of the building tools are easier to use and more intuitive than in past games, making it easy to create detailed structures that range from the simple starter house to sprawling castles.

The Sims 4 has a thriving online community where it's possible to download sims, houses, and rooms created by other users or upload your own. This content is accessible from the "Gallery" option marked by a portrait icon at the top of the screen. The gallery is home to a huge collection of content that can be added to your game with just a few clicks -- one of the most impressive aspects of The Sims 4.

sims4gallery
The Sims 4 has received some criticism for notable gameplay changes and features that were stripped from the previous game, but EA has pledged updates that will return some of the missing functionality to the game over the course of time. EA has already re-added pools and ghosts, two major features that did not ship with the game, and two additional free content updates have added genealogy to track sim family lines, holiday items, and two new careers.

EA's also released a major content pack for The Sims 4, Outdoor Retreat, which introduces a new vacations feature, new areas to explore, new traits, new skills, and more. Along with the full game, the new expansion is available on the Mac.


We tested The Sims 4 for Mac over the weekend ahead of its launch and we didn't encounter any significant bugs, performance issues, or lag when playing the game. Performance was equivalent to the PC version of the game. Of course, some users could still see issues, but on a 2013 iMac and a 2012 Retina MacBook Pro, the game ran well. System requirements can be found here.

The Sims 4 is missing some of the content from The Sims 3 and has some major differences in gameplay, namely that it's no longer possible to travel around the world without loading screens, but it should be noted that the game's performance has been much improved by some of these tweaks to the gameplay -- The Sims 4 runs quickly and has minimal lag.

If you've been playing The Sims 4 for PC and want to transfer your saved game to Mac, that's possible with a USB drive. Simply copy the "saves" folder from the PC and transfer it to The Sims 4 folder on the Mac, and the save files will be available and ready to play once you log into The Sims 4 on a Mac.

The Sims 4 for Mac be purchased through EA's Origin platform for $39.99. There's also a deluxe version available for $46.66, which includes exclusive bonus content. Outdoor Retreat can be purchased for an additional $19.99. If you already own the PC version of the game, you can download the Mac version at no additional cost.

Tags: EA, The Sims 4

Seagate Seven Review: Hands-On With a 7mm Thick Portable Hard Drive

Seagate debuted several new products at CES this year, including the candy-colored Seagate Wireless portable hard drive and the Seagate Personal Cloud, a NAS (network attached storage) option for home users, but the company's most attention-grabbing offering was the Seagate Seven.

Described as the world's thinnest 500GB portable hard drive, the USB 3.0 Seagate Seven is only 7mm thick, as its name implies, which means it easily fits into a pocket or purse, and it's fairly affordable at $99.

What's in the Box?


The Seagate Seven ships in a slim, padded box that contains the hard drive, a black fabric-covered USB cord to connect the drive to a computer, and a Quick Start Guide.

whatsinthebox

Design


Seagate describes the Seven as the culmination of 35 years of experience creating hard drives. Inside the Seven is Seagate's ultra thin 5mm hard drive, which is encased in 2mm of 100 percent stainless steel for protection.

At first glance the Seagate Seven might be mistaken for an internal drive due to its slimness and its industrial design, but it is a standalone portable drive. Without touching the Seven, it can be hard to imagine just how thin it is, but if you own an iPhone 6 or an iPhone 6 Plus, that is a good approximation of thickness.

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At 7mm, the Seven is slightly thicker than the 6.9mm iPhone 6 and slightly thinner than the 7.1mm iPhone 6 Plus. It weighs 6.3 ounces (178 grams), which makes it just about the same weight as the 6.07 ounce iPhone 6 Plus (172 grams).

The Seven is 4.8 inches tall and 3.2 inches wide, which means it fits in a pocket as well as the iPhone 6 Plus. In the simplest of terms, it's really, really thin.

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Its stainless steel design is simple but may not be appealing to all people due to its minimal, unfinished look, and it's worth noting that the casing has a tendency to attract fingerprints. The drive itself feels well-built and it can withstand scratches and wear and tear, but it's still susceptible to drops.

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Buyer's Guide Valentine's Day Edition: Discounts on iPad, iPhone, Apple Accessories, and More

With Valentine's Day on the horizon, retailers are offering some decent discounts on the iPad and the iPhone, and there are some deals on the MacBook Air and the Retina MacBook Pro.

Many online sites are also giving customers limited time site wide deals on a range of Apple accessories in honor of the holiday, so if you need a last minute gift, make sure to check out this week's Buyer's Guide.

iPhone


Target is offering a $30 discount on its stock of Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus devices, dropping the price of the entry-level 16GB iPhone 6 to $169.99 (with 2-year contract).

All iPhone 6 and 6 Plus purchases will also come with an additional $30 Target gift card. The promotion expires on February 14.

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iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3


Target is offering a $50 Target gift card with the purchase of any iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3, along with a $20 discount on the purchase of MS Office 365. iPad Air 2 prices start at $499 and iPad mini 3 prices start at $399.

The gift card with purchase deal will be available until 11:59 PM PT on February 14.

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Best Buy is offering a straight $50 discount on its entire stock of iPad Air 2 models dropping the price of the entry-level Wi-Fi only 16GB iPad Air 2 to $449. Best Buy is also offering $50 off its 16GB iPad mini 3 models, both cellular and Wi-Fi, dropping the price of the entry-level Wi-Fi only model to $349.

B&H Photo is also offering discounts of up to $50 on its stock of iPad Air 2 models and discounts of $10 to $30 on its stock of iPad mini 2 and iPad mini 3 tablets.

Retina MacBook Pro


- 13-inch 2.6GHz/8GB/128GB (Adorama) - $1,189, $100 off
- 13-inch 2.6GHz/8GB/256GB (B&H Photo) (B&H Photo) (Adorama) - $1,399, $100 off
- 13-inch 2.8GHz/8GB/512GB (Adorama) (B&H Photo) - $1,599, $200 off
- 15-inch 2.2GHz/16GB/256GB (Adorama) - $1,769.99, $230 off
- 15-inch 2.5GHz/16GB/512GB - (Adorama) - $2,219.99, $280 off

macbook_pro_13_15_late_2013

MacBook Air


- 11-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/128GB (B&H Photo) (Adorama)- $819, $50 off
- 11-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/256GB (B&H Photo) (Adorama) - $999, $100 off
- 13-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/128GB (B&H Photo (Adorama) - $919, $80 off
- 13-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/256GB (B&H Photo) (Adorama) - $1,099, $100 off

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Non-Retina iMac


- 21.5-inch 1.4Ghz/8GB/500GB (Adorama) - $1,019, $80 off
- 21.5-inch 2.7GHz/8GB/1TB (Adorama) - $1,189, $110 off
- 21.5-inch 2.9GHz/8GB/1TB (Adorama) - $1,389, $100 off
- 27-inch 3.2GHz/8GB/1TB (Adorama) - $1,689, $110 off
- 27-inch 3.4GHz/8GB/1TB (Amazon) (B&H Photo) - $1,799, $200 off

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Mac Pro


- 8-core 3.0GHz/32GB/512GB/FirePro D700 Mac Pro (MacMall) - $6,149, $650 off

Apps


As always, there are quite a few apps that are on sale at discounted prices or available for free for a limited time. We'll highlight a few here, but make sure to check out our sister site AppShopper for a complete list.

Board game Ticket to Ride is available for $2.99 this week, down from $6.99. Note Rocket sketchpad is available for free, down from $1.99. WeatherPro is available for $0.99, down from $2.99. Pomodoro Time is available for free this week, down from $1.99. Those Days is available for free, down from $2.99.

Apple Accessories


Groupon is selling the Griffin GuitarConnect Cable for iOS devices for $19.99, down from $29.99. The 'Prep Pad' Smart Food Scale and Nutrition Tracker is available from StackSocial for $112, down from $149.

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Beats by Dre Solo2 headphones are available for $159.99 from Groupon, down from $199. StackSocial is selling the Sesame 2 Wireless Auto-Lock for Mac for $29.99, $10 off the regular price. A refurbished Mophie powerstation duo or PRO is available for $39.99 from Groupon, down from $99.

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MacMall is selling a refurbished LaCie Rugged 1TB Thunderbolt hard drive for $89.99, $110 off the regular price. MacMall also has a refurbished 2TB Quadra LaCie hard drive for $119.99, $80 off the regular price.

Fluxmob, a site that sells super portable Bolt 3,000 mAh portable batteries is offering 20 percent off site wide through February 15. iPhone accessory maker Speck is offering 20 percent off site wide through today with the promo code SWEETHEART.

boltcharger
Incase is offering a 40 percent off coupon code for its online store when signing up for the company newsletter. Cablejive, a site with a range of iPhone chargers and cables, is offering 20 percent off site wide with the coupon code LOVE.

MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors.

Tim Cook Expected to Arrive in Israel Next Week for Inauguration of Herzliya-Based Offices

tim_cook_headshot_glassesA new report out of Israel-based business newspaper Calcalist [Google Translate] claims Apple CEO Tim Cook is planning to make a trip to Israel next week to coincide with the grand opening of the company's newest office space in the country. The plans are, however, yet to be finalized.

The project, housed in the beachfront district of Herzliya Pituach, has been ongoing since the middle of 2013, when Apple signed a contract to lease 12,500 square meters of office space in the district.

With the project now completed, Apple is set to house 800 employees in an expanded footprint of 17,000 square meters (183,000 square feet). According to Haaretz, the company's R&D centers in Israel are focused on "storage space, processors and communications chips," so the new Herzliya offices are likely to be tied into those areas.

Apple has two other office spaces in Israel: one much farther out from Herzliya in Haifa and another within walking distance of the new building in nearby Ra'anana. For that reason, Apple is expected to consolidate the Ra'anana offices into the new building once it's up and running.

As Haaretz noted back in 2013, many believe Apple's continued expansion overseas highlights the company's deep appreciation of foreign markets and its desire to keep the manufacturing of Apple products under as much of its own control as possible.
“Apple is preparing to drop external suppliers and to control its entire production process,” [Explace chairman Shlomo] Gradman said. “This is a company that maintains its secrecy and they’re currently exposed to information going every which way. So it’s buying companies and improving its abilities in the field of microelectronics so that it can control the production process from beginning to end."

“Even though Apple has been active in Israel for only a short time, the company has been impressed by the abilities here."
Apple first began making headway into Israel after purchasing flash memory firm Anobit to gather a few key components of the manufacturing of the iPhone and iPad - namely flash memory performance and reliability - under its own roof. A meeting last year between Cook and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointed towards the company's continued interest in Israel's market, despite the specifics of the conversation being kept private.

(Thanks, Hagai!)

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