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12.9-Inch 'iPad Pro' Rumored to Feature NFC, Bluetooth Stylus, Force Touch and USB-C

The much-rumored 12.9-inch so-called "iPad Pro" will feature a built-in NFC chip, pressure-sensitive Bluetooth stylus, Force Touch and USB-C port, according to AppleInsider. The report, citing a source familiar with Apple's future product plans, also claims that the larger iPad will have a new touchscreen with improved latency and unsurprisingly be powered by Apple's latest A-series processor. A purported "iPad Pro" blueprint from December 2014 with possible dimensions The inclusion of an NFC chip will enable the iPad Pro to be used as an Apple Pay payment terminal, although it is unlikely the tablet itself will have tap-to-pay functionality, according to the report. Apple Pay contactless payments are currently limited to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and iPhone 5, iPhone 5c or iPhone 5s when paired with an Apple Watch, in the United States. Meanwhile, the report corroborates well-informed KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo's claim that the iPad Pro will feature an Apple-built stylus, which AppleInsider says will connect via Bluetooth and allow pressure-sensitive input. The iPad Pro's display will also reportedly feature Force Touch, a technology that distinguishes between a tap and a deep press on the screen. The report adds that the iPad Pro's USB-C port will either replace or supplement the Lightning connector equipped on other current iPads:"The source also said that Apple's new, larger iPad will also feature a USB-C input, though they didn't indicate whether it would be a new, second port option, or if USB-C would replace the Lightning connector found on

Apple Rumored to Release Updated iPod Touch Later This Year

Apple is expected to announce a new iPod touch later this year, according to AppleInsider. The report, citing a source familiar with the plans, claims that the refreshed portable media player will likely have a similar design as the current model released over two-and-a-half years ago, and speculates that the next-generation device could have camera and processor improvements. Apple has not refreshed the iPod touch since October 2012, when the portable media player was updated with an ultra-thin and colorful design, A5 processor and Lightning connector. iPod sales have been declining for several years, becoming a largely insignificant part of Apple's product lineup, anchored by the iPhone, iPad and Mac. The company no longer discloses iPod sales in its quarterly results after reporting 2.9 million units sold in Q4 2014. The report is entirely speculative about possible new features the next-generation iPod touch could have, including a 64-bit A7 processor, increased storage space, and improved iSight and FaceTime cameras. Additionally, it would make sense for the new iPod touch to support Apple Pay, which would require locked down NFC capabilities and a Touch ID fingerprint scanner. Beats-related features could also be in store following Apple's $3 billion acquisition of the company in May 2014. If the report proves accurate, Apple could announce its next-generation iPod touch during its iPhone event in September or iPad event in October that it typically holds each year. It is also possible that Apple may quietly update the iPod touch through a press release or

Apple's 'Project Titan' Car Research May Be Headquartered at Leased Sunnyvale Campus

Apple's "Project Titan", its secretive and much-rumored electric car project, may involve a campus leased by Apple last year that is located in Sunnyvale, California, just a few minutes from the company's main 1 Infinite Loop campus in Cupertino, reports AppleInsider. According to "two people with knowledge of the project", the company has been receiving shipments that may be related to the project's development at the Sunnyvale address, though it remains unclear if that location is indeed the headquarters of the car project. According to one AppleInsider source familiar with "Titan," many of Apple's new auto-related hires, including recruits from Tesla, have been working out of the Sunnyvale campus. This person claims that some of the projects underway there have been kept "very secret" within the company. It is said that the "Titan" development building itself is codenamed "SG5."Apple's presence at the campus is not a secret, but AppleInsider believes Apple is linked to another company quietly operating at the site, likely as a front for Apple's more secretive efforts. That company, SixtyEight Research, claims to be a market research firm, but there is little public evidence of any actual operations in that field. Instead, the building where SixtyEight Research is listed as a tenant has seen city permits issued for construction of an "auto work area" and a "repair garage". Photo of SixtyEight Research's offices (Source: AppleInsider) SixtyEight's affiliation with Apple could not be confirmed, but Apple does have a long history of using shell corporations and

Apple Said to Plan October 21 Media Event to Launch New iPads, OS X Yosemite [Update: No]

With its iPhone 6 announcement completed, Apple reportedly is preparing a second announcement event that will will launch new iPad models, claims AppleInsider, citing a trusted insider familiar with the company's pre-launch logistics. The report points to the second half of October for the event, but The Daily Dot has gone a step further and predicted an October 21 event based on its own sources.A person familiar with the company's pre-launch logistics says Apple has set internal project and marketing deadlines of mid-October, ahead of the planned unveiling of major new products during the second half of the month. That would align with an anticipated media event previously rumored to be held at some point during October. The same source who spoke to AppleInsider has shared reliable information on product introduction and timing in the past.If true, the schedule would align with Apple's pattern for the last several years, which last year saw the company unveil its new iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display in October with an availability date in early November. This year's event may introduce updated iPad models that include a faster A8 processor, anti-reflective display and a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, although one report suggests most of the upgrades will be limited to the larger iPad Air model. iPad Air 2 mockup Aside from new iPads, Apple is also expected to use the October event to finalize the details and availability date for OS X Yosemite, which was initially introduced at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference in June. According to The Daily Dot,

iWatch Rumored to Include UV Light Exposure Sensor

Apple's long-rumored "iWatch" smartwatch may include a UV light exposure sensor provided by Texas-based Silicon Labs, according to a new research note from Barclays analyst Blayne Curtis (via AppleInsider). The digital ultraviolet sensor, which was announced in February, is described by Silicon Labs as "ideal for activity-tracking wrist and arm bands, smart watches and smartphone handsets." In addition to tracking UV sun exposure, the sensor is also said to track heart/pulse rate and blood oximetry levels and provide proximity and gesture control. Traditional watch-style iWatch concept based on TRIWA's Havana Nevil Brown watch, by Gábor Balogh These chips measure UV exposure to aid those with elevated risk of sunburn or just a general concern about excessive sun exposure, and we believe they may be of appealing to OEMs looking to differentiate in a crowded market. To that end, while these products have seen little public hype thus far, we believe SLAB has a win in Apple’s upcoming iWatch (late 2H14 or early 2015). Past reports have indicated that Apple is preparing to include the ability to monitor a number of health-related metrics in the iWatch such as heart rate, sleep activity, movement, perspiration levels, and skin temperature. Apple is also said to be developing a "Healthbook" app for iOS 8 which would help the iWatch monitor and track health statistics like weight, heart rate, calories and step counts in conjunction with the iPhone. Over the past year, Apple has also hired a number of health experts in fields related to heart rate monitoring and fitness

Apple Winding Down iPad 2 Production After Three-Year Run

Apple is winding down production of the iPad 2 as customer interest in the legacy device dwindles, according to a report from AppleInsider. First introduced in early 2011, the iPad 2 has remained in Apple's product lineup as a lower-price option even as newer iPad models have been discontinued.According to people familiar with Apple's plans, the company has made the decision to ramp down iPad 2 production given that customers are resoundingly shifting purchases towards its more modern and capable iPads, namely the iPad mini and iPad Air.Apple continues to sell 16 GB iPad 2 models priced at $399 for Wi-Fi only and $529 for Wi-Fi + Cellular for the time being, coming in $100 lower than corresponding iPad Air models. There is no word yet, however, on just when Apple plans to stop selling the iPad 2 as its stocks wind down. The iPad 2 remained popular even up until the launch of the iPad Air, with educational institutions and other specialized markets preferring the device for a combination of its lower price and its compatibility with numerous accessories through the legacy 30-pin dock connector. But with the introduction of the dramatically thinner iPad Air and Retina display-equipped iPad mini late last year, sales of the iPad 2 dropped dramatically and the company has apparently decided that continued production is not

iMac Reportedly Set to Receive Updates Next Week [Updated]

As part of its report detailing part numbers for the "iPad mini", AppleInsider briefly mentions that Apple appears set to launch updated iMacs on October 24, the day after the company's rumored media event.The person also added that Apple is rumored to begin selling new iMac desktops on Oct. 24, one day after the anticipated Oct. 23 event. While there have been rumblings of an iMac update for some time, and earlier this week we shared a report claiming that the new models will be thinner than current ones, today's report appears to be the first to specifically claim that they will launch next week. For those keeping track, Apple's plans for next week now appear to include the iPad mini, updated iMacs, a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, and updated Mac mini models. Update 8:49 AM: 9to5Mac has now posted the four new iMac model numbers, which presumably correspond to two different standard configurations each of the 21.5-inch and 27-inch models, although the report claims that at least some configurations may not ship until several weeks after their introduction. This would presumably refer to the 27-inch models, which have reportedly been suffering from lower yields on the display-glass lamination process and have been rumored to be seeing a later launch than their smaller counterparts.

Part Numbers Reveal Apple's Plan for 24 Different 'iPad Mini' Models [Updated x2]

AppleInsider has posted a list of 24 different model numbers said to be for Apple's "iPad mini" scheduled for introduction at a media event next Tuesday. According to the list, the iPad will be available in four basic device variants that presumably correspond to different capacities: P101, P103, P105, and P107. The set of four variants suggests that Apple may be releasing the iPad mini with capacities ranging from 8 GB up to 64 GB. Each of those four variants is available in three different flavors designated "GOOD", "BETTER", and "BEST" that are presumed to be related to connectivity options. Apple appears set to launch both Wi-Fi and cellular-capable models, with the three flavors suggesting that there may be multiple cellular-capable versions such as separate 3G and 4G LTE models. Alternatively, there may simply be two different LTE-capable versions in order to support the various carrier networks available around the world, although it is unclear why one such model would be designated "BETTER" and another "BEST". Finally, each model and variant is available in "A" and "B" versions, which almost certainly refer to color options. Current iPad models are available with black and white front panels, but rumors and part leaks have suggested that Apple may be extending those color differences to the aluminum rear shell with anodization as on the iPhone 5. Update 7:36 AM: An alternate theory on the various models suggests that the "Good, Better, Best" designations refer to three different capacities, which would be more in line with Apple's previous use of

Alleged New Part Numbers Suggest Over a Dozen New Mac Models Coming at WWDC [Updated]

Following yesterday's leak of Mac Pro part numbers, AppleInsider now posts a full list of 27 new part numbers said to be on their way to resellers in Australia. A total of 13 of the part numbers are listed as "standalone kits", indicating that they are accessories, which leaves as many as 14 Mac models included in the launch. Based on hints included in the leaked image and some additional information, guesses can be made at the identities of some of the remaining products. The first product on the list, part number MC414, is described as "K31 Best" and appears to have a price under AU$1000. The K31 part number initially appeared a year ago to describe what is now the current generation of Apple's Time Capsule base station. Consequently, this new listing may represent a capacity upgrade to the existing line. The next group of part numbers includes a pair of "D2" machines with prices above AU$2000 and AU$3000 respectively, and these parts could represent new 15-inch MacBook Pro models. The current stock 15-inch models come in at AU$2099 and AU$2499, and the higher price on at least the new high-end model could be a result of a shift to solid-state storage. The identification of these part numbers as MacBook Pros is mere speculation, however, based only on the best fitting price points of current machines. Two pairs of model numbers at J30 and J31 could represent updated iMacs, with the three lowest models being priced in the AU$1000-AU$1999 range and the top end model coming in above AU$2000. This fits with the existing iMac pricing, which is

Apple Interested In Acquiring German Television Maker Loewe? [Updated: Company Denies]

Apple is in talks to acquire German luxury television manufacturer Loewe, according to an unconfirmed report from AppleInsider. The site claims Apple has offered €87.3 million for the company, a 48% premium from Loewe's Friday close on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. Word of the negotiations was exclusively revealed to AppleInsider, and although the offer has yet to be accepted, a source claims that Loewe "has been advised by its financial advisor to accept the offer and a final decision is scheduled to be announced internally before 18 May 2012."Loewe makes sleek, minimalist televisions that would seem to fit well with Jony Ive's product designs. The company also makes speaker systems, including the AirPlay-compatible AirSpeaker, as well as a sleek app that controls the Loewe television set via an iPad. Loewe's largest shareholder is Sharp, the same company that has been rumored to be Apple's choice to work with Foxconn to build a television set. Foxconn and Sharp announced a partnership to work together in March. AppleInsider says a decision on the acquisition will be announced internally by the end of this week. Update: A Loewe company spokesman told German website Heise (via The Next Web) that the report has “absolutely nothing to

More Claims of MacBook Pro Adopting MacBook Air Form Factor in 2012 Redesign

In two reports back in April and July of last year, we reported that Apple was working on an ultra-thin 15-inch Mac notebook, with the suggestion being that the existing MacBook Pro line would evolve to take design cues and many of the features from the popular MacBook Air. But whether the larger notebooks would be branded as MacBook Pros or MacBook Airs has been unclear. Many had hoped that the redesigned 15-inch notebook would debut by the end of 2011, but Apple apparently elected to squeeze in one final minor spec bump as it waited for Intel's Ivy Bridge platform to launch in 2012. Reports late last year continued to suggest that Apple was finishing up work on the redesigned 15-inch MacBook Pro ahead of a 2012 debut. AppleInsider now weighs in with its own claims essentially mirroring much of what was previously reported, but emphasizing that the shift will likely see a unification of Apple's notebook lines under the MacBook Air design aesthetic, covering the full range of 11-inch to 17-inch sizes by the end of this year.This will include new, ultra-thin unibody enclosures that jettison yesteryear technologies like optical disk drives and traditional hard drives in favor of models with lightweight chassis that employ flash-memory based solid-state drives, instant-on capabilities, extended battery life, and rely on digital distribution for software and media. "They're all going to look like MacBook Airs," one person familiar with the new MacBook Pro designs told AppleInsider. Meanwhile, existing MacBook Pro designs are expected to be phased out over the

Apple Bringing Store-Within-a-Store Concept to Target?

AppleInsider reports that Apple is planning to launch a test program later this year that would see the company open "store-within-a-store" concepts in 25 Target stores around the United States. The stores would be similar to the "Apple Shops" found in a number of Best Buy locations.According to a source familiar with Apple's plans, the company plans to begin operating Apple-branded areas within 25 larger Target stores in locations which can't support a standalone Apple Store. The initial opening would be a small start, given that Target, the second-largest discount retail chain in the US, operates 1752 stores in the US.The report notes that Apple has had a long-standing arrangement with Target for the retailer to feature iPods in its stores, a relationship that has since expanded to include the iPad and iPhone. With the test program, these select Target locations may soon also begin selling Mac products in its stores in addition to providing other dedicated Apple product sales support. Best Buy Apple Shop (Source: Best Buy) Many Best Buy Apple Shops are run under the Apple Solutions Consultants, which utilizes Apple-employed consultants to provide expertise within the Best Buy stores, although Best Buy employees may also assist

Apple 'Questioning' the Future of its Mac Pro Line?

Late last week, we noted that with pricing information on Intel's upcoming Sandy Bridge E Xeon processors surfacing, Apple's options for a potential "Early 2012" Mac Pro have begun to clear up. The Mac Pro has not been updated since mid-2010, and delays in Intel's new chips have pushed their availability out from late this year to early next year. But despite the new processors now being in sight, AppleInsider reports that Apple is reportedly "questioning" the future of the Mac Pro line and whether it will even release updated models.Although the Mac maker has reportedly developed a revision to the existing Mac Pro that may or may not see the light of day, people familiar with the matter said management as far back as May of 2011 were in limbo over whether to pour any additional resources into the product line. According to these people, the consensus among sales executives for the Cupertino-based company was that the Mac Pro's days -- at least in its current form -- were inevitably numbered. In particular, internal discussions were said to focus around the fact that sales of the high-end workstations to both consumers and enterprises have dropped off so considerably that the Mac Pro is no longer a particularly profitable operation for Apple.The report's source indicates that with Intel's new Thunderbolt connectivity standard making its way across all of Apple's Mac products, those products now have enhanced flexibility to assume some of the tasks that have historically been handled the Mac Pro. Combined with a continuing shift towards notebooks that has seen the

No MacBook Pro Refresh Until Early Next Month?

Just yesterday, 9to5Mac claimed that a debut of updated MacBook Pro models was "likely" to occur next week, offering a minor speed bump refresh to carry the line through until the launch of Intel's Ivy Bridge platform next year. AppleInsider now reports, however, that the MacBook Pro launch will likely not occur until "early next month".[One source] said that the notebooks' planned introduction in late September was put on the back burner once the release dates for iOS 5.0 and iPhone 4S were solidified, as Apple pooled all available resources to support the launch -- the largest and most rapid yet in the Cupertino-based company's history. Since then, the launch date for the Late 2011 MacBook Pros has reportedly been a moving target. However, a second person with proven accuracy in predicting Apple's product launch dates says the Mac maker is now advising its partners not to expect availability of the new models until the first week of November.The reason for the continued fluidity in launch timing is unknown, although Apple's primary MacBook Pro and MacBook Air aluminum case supplier, Catcher Technology, has been forced to temporarily shut down its factory over over pollution concerns. Digitimes reported today that Catcher is investing $2-3 million to address concerns at the plant, aiming to resume production next month. Apple has reportedly already ramped down production of its current MacBook Pro models, a situation that will likely lead to increasingly tight supplies heading into the refresh. Third-party resellers are already experiencing shortages and

AppleCare Prepping for October 10th Launch of iOS 5?

A source connected to Apple's AppleCare customer service call centers has reportedly indicated to AppleInsider that the company is expecting a large influx of iOS-related support calls beginning Monday, October 10th, potentially signaling a release of iOS 5 to current users on that date.For instance, one person familiar with the matter said his local AppleCare call center has been told to expect an eightfold increase in customer calls on that day, and that staff are being advised ahead of time for the increased traffic. The person could not say with any certainty what will be released on that Monday, but noted that the increase in call volume is related to iOS. This led them to speculate that Apple could release iOS 5 and iCloud on Oct. 10.Apple has in the past released iOS major updates a few days ahead of the new hardware running the operating system, spreading out demand for support services. - 2008: iPhone OS 2.0 and iPhone 3G both released on July 11th - 2009: iPhone OS 3.0 released on June 17th, iPhone 3GS released on June 19th - 2010: iOS 4.0 released on June 21st, iPhone 4 released on June 24th A planned October 10th debut of iOS 5 for existing hardware lines up nicely with current rumors of Apple shooting for October 5th for final carrier certification of the new operating system and a "mid-October" release of the new hardware, perhaps at the end of that week.

Apple Preparing to Release Updated AirPort Express Base Station

AppleInsider reports that Apple is preparing to release an updated version of its compact AirPort Express wireless base station. Hints of the imminent refresh come from shortages of the existing model being observed at several third-party retailers, but the most concrete evidence comes from a source reporting that Apple is finishing work on its AirPort Utility 5.6 software which makes reference to the new model.Although Apple's online store still reflects availability of "AirPort Express Base Station with 802.11n and AirTunes," authorized resellers like DataVision report that the same model (MB321LL/A) is discontinued, while Amazon estimates it will have new stock sometime in the next "2 to 5 weeks." Additionally, a person familiar with the matter says Apple is wrapping up the release of AirPort Utility 5.6, makes reference to a second-generation 802.11n AirPort Express in its developer notes: "Adds support for the AirPort Express 802.11n (2nd Generation) base station"Similar references to updated Time Capsule and AirPort Extreme models were discovered in the public release of AirPort Utility 5.5.3 back in June, with the new models debuting a week later. That update brought increased storage capacities for Time Capsule models, as well as improved range and performance. It is unclear exactly what changes Apple has in store for the AirPort Express, but similar wireless performance improvements may be the focus of the

Work on Apple's iPhone 5 Ads Reportedly Set to Wrap in Early October

In line with reports that the iPhone 5 will debut in "mid-October", AppleInsider reports that Apple and its longtime advertising partner TBWA/Chiat/Day are beginning work on an advertising campaign to support the new device, with production on the first round of television commercials said to be wrapping up in the first week of October.More specifically, one person familiar with the matter says that filming for the television spots is taking place out in Los Angeles in conjunction with the iPhone maker's long-time ad agency TBWAChiatDay. However, a second person with a proven track record notes that the production schedules for the first-run campaign isn't slated to wrap up until the middle of the first week of October.iPhone 5 rumors seem to be coalescing around a late September to mid October timeframe, with Apple potentially holding a media event near the early end of that window and product availability coming on one of the first two Fridays in October: the 7th or the

OS X Lion and New MacBook Airs Coming on Wednesday?

AppleInsider reports that this Wednesday may finally be the day that OS X Lion and new MacBook Air models finally begin shipping as consumers have been anxiously awaiting the releases.According to people with proven track records who would be in a position to know, the new product launches are set to occur later this week. Specifically, one person said the products would be released on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.Circulating rumors have claimed that the updated MacBook Air models will sport a minimum of 128 GB solid state drives and 4 GB of RAM, and will also see the return of a backlit keyboard. Apple has been reported to be holding new hardware launches until OS X Lion is ready so that it can ship the machines with the latest operating system pre-installed. A number of other new hardware updates are said to be pending, including a Mac mini refresh and an updated LED Cinema Display. New Mac Pro models have also been rumored for release later this month or early next month. All of the new releases are said to support the new Thunderbolt high-speed data connectivity

Backlit Keyboard to Return in New MacBook Air?

Photo of original MacBook Air by kimb0lene The backlit keyboard will reportedly be making a return to the MacBook Air with the new 2011 models that are quickly approaching release. The seemingly minor feature omission for the 2010 MacBook Air has generated a good bit of backlash on Apple's own support forums. AppleInsider claims that the imminent MacBook Air refresh will bring back this popular feature:According to people familiar with the matter, backlit keyboards will join the string of hardware enhancements planned for the new 11.6- and 13.3-inch notebooks, which are also expected to adopt high-speed Thunderbolt ports, an upgrade to Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture, and possibly high-speed 400MBps flash memory.The backlight provides illumination to the keyboard in the dark (as pictured above). The feature is also present in all of Apple's current MacBook Pro notebooks. The MacBook Air is expected to be released soon with part numbers already leaked on Monday. Apple is rumored to have delayed the MacBook Air release until OS X Lion was ready and

Apple to Debut 'HD+' 1080p iTunes Movie Services Later This Year?

AppleInsider reports that Apple may be preparing to begin supporting 1080p movies in its iTunes Store later this year, based on reports of film studios submitting films to Apple in a new "HD+" format at the higher resolution.Thus far, 1080p HD content has largely eluded users of Apple products, with HD versions of videos on the company's digital download service maxing out 720p (1280x720) and chief executive Steve Jobs balking at adoption of Blu-ray on Macs due to licensing complications and other challenges that he said threatened to translate into a "bag of hurt." But that could begin to change later this year, as a handful of feature films being submitted to the iTunes store for a release in the September and October timeframe are being sent with documentation for an optional 1920x1080 resolution, according to people familiar with the matter. According to the source, at least three of the five largest movie studios have submitted titles scheduled for fall releases with optional resolutions of 1920x1080 at average bitrates of 10 Mbps. The report's sources also point to rumors of an updated 1080p-capable Apple TV, which lines up nicely with increased 1080p support in iOS 5, which is due for release around the same September timeframe. Those improved capabilities were noted last month to have opened the door to a true 1080p Apple TV. Apple is said to have the capability to stream 1080p video already in hand, but that the company remains concerned that many users' personal connection speeds aren't yet high enough to support streaming of the "HD+" content