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'Next-Generation' Apple Store Opens in Memphis

Apple officially opened one of its first Jony Ive-inspired "next-generation" retail stores in the U.S. over the weekend. The new-look store is located at the Shops of Saddle Creek South in Germantown, a suburb of Memphis, Tennessee, and shows off some of the new design elements, as shown in photos provided to AppleInsider. The store is described as having a high-flung ceiling lined with light panels and spotlights, which illuminate product display tables that have been arranged to maximize floorspace and achieve a sense of openness. The wooden tables have been redesigned by Ive and now contain motion sensors that operate a flip-up panel concealing power outlets and ports. New wooden accessory display installations adorn the walls, and feature a headphone tryout area along with shelves for speakers, docks and other products. Undoubtedly the biggest new addition though is a gigantic 37-foot display screen opposite the store's all-glass frontage. The high-resolution array is encased in a black housing and fills almost the entire wall with its edge-to-edge display. Plans for the next-generation Memphis store were revealed in an August 2015 building permit application. In February 2015, The New Yorker ran a profile of Jony Ive which included details of the collaboration between Ive and retail chief Angela Ahrendts in coming up with the redesign, which is slowly being introduced in the company's latest stores. In December, 60 Minutes viewers got a peek at Apple's next-generation design when correspondent Charlie Rose spoke to Ahrendts in a

Apple Patents Hover-Sensing Multi-Touch Display for Macs and iPhones

The United States Patent and Trademark Office today published a patent filed by Apple last March, which details how inline proximity sensors could be used in tandem with a touchscreen display to detect non-contact hover gestures (via AppleInsider). The patent, titled "Proximity and multi-touch sensor detection and demodulation", reveals how photodiodes or other proximity hardware work in parallel with traditional multitouch displays to extend user interaction beyond the screen surface. One embodiment of the patent describes a capacitive sensing element, using a range of proximity sensors and an LCD display, that would let users deploy gestures above a traditional keyboard, resulting in a "virtual keyboard". With multiple proximity arrays deployed on every touch sensor or pixel of the panel, the system can detect a finger, palm or other object hovering over the display surface. The detected motion is then translated to a GUI by which users can "push" virtual buttons, trigger functions without physical touch, toggle power to devices and more. Various configurations of the technology are outlined in the patent, including one which describes a MacBook featuring assistive hover-sensing displays that augment typing and trackpad input. As with any filed patent, the technology is unlikely to appear in any product soon, if at all, especially given that Apple only recently introduced 3D Touch support and is still actively encouraging app developers to make more use of the feature. Apple has expressed interest in non-contact user interfacing and motion control

Apple Patents Hybrid Keyboard With Touch-Sensitive Mechanical Keys

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today published a patent application filed by Apple in September 2011 (via AppleInsider), detailing a new keyboard that includes inputs for both traditional mechanical keystrokes along with a new touch-sensitive interface laid over each individual key. The so-called "Fusion keyboard" would be able to detect the traditional swipe and zoom inputs of a MacBook trackpad, simply spread across the touch-sensitive interface of individual keys. The keyboard - noted to be both an integrated or external accessory, meaning the feature could come to both iMac and MacBook - could also allow for a sort of multi-touch input, meaning a user could simultaneously type something with their left hand while using a touch gesture for cursor control, for example, with the other. Notably, the new keyboard patent also includes two-position mechanical switches that perform certain tasks at different levels of pressure, unlike the single-position design of not only the Mac line but most keyboards used today. The first level of pressure could act as a normal text input, while the second level could generate some alternative command similar to that of a mouse click. Although no indication of increased forceful pressure is described in the new patent, the two-position switches do sound akin to Apple's new Force Touch technology which debuted on the Apple Watch and is now found on the company's MacBook trackpad. Although Apple debuted a new kind of lighter butterfly mechanism keyboard with the new 12-inch Retina MacBook, the patent described today could be

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

Route Tracking and Screen Mirroring Shown in New Apple Patent

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today released a patent application filed by Apple back in January of 2013, describing a method by which an iPhone or iPad can provide specifically detailed GPS path information to another device after given proper authorization (via AppleInsider). In the vein of Find My Friends, which allows rudimentary static location-based tracking services and slightly more in-depth parental controls, today's patent application would add another level of detail to the service. The patent suggests providing location- and path-based information accumulated by one device in the visual form of a digital route on a second device following the first. Because the device receiving the information would be constantly updated with the first device's movements, it would allow users to follow someone in real time. The patent even mentions the receiving device could generate "spoken word directions", so if a user is driving a car, they wouldn't have to constantly be staring at the phone's screen. A device in motion can record data about the path it travels and send the path data to another device. A user of the second device can then use the data to see where the first user traveled and/or travel the same path as did the first user. For example, while the first user is driving a car, she could be running a maps application on the first device, and share the path she is travelling with the user of the second device while the second user is also driving a car. The second device could then display the path in an instance of the maps application running

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,

Apple Granted Patent for Weightlifting Tracker That Utilizes Watch-Like Device

Apple has been awarded a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (via AppleInsider) that details a weightlifting tracker that could pair with a watch-like device to provide live progress-tracking to users, offering a potential scenario where Apple's highly-rumored iWatch could be used. The patent details how a transmitter could attach itself to a weightlifting bar to count repetitions in real time. The transmitter itself is described as having a number of components, including an accelerometer, processor, Hall effect sensor, and display. While some scenarios describe the sensor as showing live information all by itself, a few note that the small beacons could transfer data to devices such as a watch or phone. A sensor (500) shown on-top of a body bar In one embodiment, display 512 is part of a watch (or a MP3 player or a cell phone) that may be seen when worn or used by the user when performing exercises; and measurements determined by processor are transmitted to the watch (or to the MP3 player or cell phone) for display. In a situation where data is transferred to a watch, the patent notes that the watch's housing could include a processor to store data and inform the user of repetitions for workouts over time. This would allow the device to breakdown a user's workout with the use of multiple sensors, even giving information about the body bar or other equipment used. Whether Apple integrates the technology described in the patent into a specific product remains to be seen. However, recent reports surrounding the iWatch have described the device

Apple Awarded Patent for Contact Aware User Interface in Messaging Applications

Apple has been awarded a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (via AppleInsider) that details a user interface in messaging apps that dynamically changes its background based on conversation participants. The patent details how this interface would adapt to both single and group conversations, and how it would work with specific data to generate images. Outlining the "Generation of a user interface based on contacts", the patent describes how a conversation can be displayed over a background image associated with a contact. Users have the ability to assign a photo to a single contact to serve as a background, while the image itself can be adjusted to be dimmed or alpha-blended with a background color to ensure greater message readability. If an image is not assigned, the interface could also generate a default male or female image based on contact information. The concept also carries over into group chats, as one user can be highlighted while others are greyed out to display who sent the last message. Alternative methods described in the patent also include showing contact thumbnails in a Cover Flow or carousel fashion, as well as layouts that center and increase the thumbnail of the most recent contacts with animations for emphasis. The patent also describes a potential API for third party developers to integrate the user interface into their own apps. As with other software patents, it is unknown whether Apple plans to include this dynamic user interface in future versions of Messages or other apps. However, Apple could make changes to the Messages

Apple Releases Guidelines for Law Enforcement Data Requests

In a new legal resources page posted on its website Wednesday night (via 9to5Mac), Apple outlined its guidelines regarding requests for customer data from from U.S. law enforcement agencies, specifying what information the company can and can not retrieve from devices upon the receipt of a search warrant or legal notice. Regarding the extraction of data from passcode locked iOS devices, Apple states that it may only retrieve information from its own first party apps, which includes SMS messages, photos, videos, contacts, audio recording, and call history. However, Apple can not provide access to email, calendar entries or third-party app data. The company says the data extraction process itself can only be performed on devices in "good working order" at its Cupertino, California headquarters. Apple will also assist law enforcement in returning lost iPhones to their rightful owners, agreeing to contact the customer of record and have them contact law enforcement to get their property back pending available information. The new page follows a report from The Washington Post last week which stated that the company would begin notifying its users of secret personal data requests from law enforcement. Apple has become increasingly concerned about privacy matters since the discovery of PRISM, a secret intelligence program ran by the NSA. CEO Tim Cook was noted as saying that the NSA would have to "cart [Apple] out in a box" before it could access the company's servers, as Apple also hired certified privacy professional Sabrina Ross last month to oversee the

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

FileMaker Reportedly Lays Off 20 Employees Following Announcement of Bento Discontinuation

Earlier this week, Apple subsidiary FileMaker Inc. announced that it was discontinuing its consumer-friendly Bento database software to focus on its flagship FileMaker line. Now, AppleInsider is claiming that the company has laid off 20 employees and is undergoing the process of restructuring, according to sources from within the company. Sources say Thursday's rumored job cuts are associated to Bento's demise, adding California-based external representatives, sales engineers, and technical support staff were let go. The layoffs may extend further, however, as at least one person responsible for sales of the flagship FileMaker software is said to no longer be with the company.The latest version of the company’s flagship software, FileMaker Pro 12, was released in April 2012. The latest version of the company's Bento software however, was released more than two years ago, with an iPad version appearing in June 2012. FileMaker will stop offering Bento in both the Mac and iPhone/iPad App Stores as of September 30 of this year, although it will continue to support the apps until the end of July 2014, according to a post on FileMaker's technical support page. FileMaker Pro 12 is currently priced at $299 for new users and $179 for upgrade users. An advanced version of the software, FileMaker Pro 12 Advanced, is $499 and $299 respectively. Both versions of the software are available for purchase on the company's

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

Apple CEO Tim Cook Visits Headquarters of Video Game Firm Valve

AppleInsider reports that Apple CEO Tim Cook paid a visit today to the the headquarters of Valve, the video game firm behind the Steam digital distribution platform and a number of popular PC and Mac games. While the purpose of Cook's visit is unknown, his presence at the company's headquarters in Bellevue, Washington suggests that it may have been of some importance potentially relating to collaboration between the two companies. Just over two years ago, Valve made a splash by leaking a set of teaser images to MacRumors and other Apple and gaming sites revealing that it would be bringing its Steam game distribution platform and a number of its own titles to the Mac platform. Steam for Mac launched in May 2010 with over 60 titles, and Valve now offers over a dozen of its own games for Mac through the store. Earlier this year, Valve released a Steam companion app for iOS, allowing users to browse the Steam marketplace and even purchase games for later download and play on a PC or Mac. It is unclear just what Apple and Valve might come up with in terms of an expanded collaboration if one is in the works, including whether it would extend in some form to iOS or remain limited to gaming on the Mac platform. Valve has been rumored to be working on its own hardware offerings related to Steam services, and the company has just posted job openings related to hardware engineering for such

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