CVS Stores Reportedly Disabling NFC to Shut Down Apple Pay and Google Wallet

Earlier this week, pharmacy chain Rite Aid shut down unofficial support for the Apple Pay and Google Wallet mobile payments systems, resulting in an outcry from users who have been testing out Apple's new system since its launch on Monday. Rite Aid was not an official Apple Pay partner, but the payments system generally works with existing near field communications (NFC) payment terminals anyway, and many users had had success using Apple Pay at Rite Aid stores early in the week. It now appears that fellow major pharmacy chain CVS is following suit and as of today is shutting down the NFC functionality of its payment terminals entirely, a move presumably intended to thwart Apple Pay. Google Wallet services are obviously also being affected by the move. Multiple reports on Twitter and the MacRumors forums have indicated that CVS has sent an email to its stores indicating that NFC support is to be turned off. It is still relatively early in the day in the U.S., but we are now starting to see reports of NFC indeed being turned off at CVS stores. The reason behind Rite Aid's and CVS's moves to disable unofficial Apple Pay support in their stores is presumably related to their participation in Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), a retailer group developing its own mobile payments system known as CurrentC. A claimed internal Rite Aid message shared with SlashGear supports this notion, instructing cashiers to explain to customers that Apple Pay is not supported but that MCX's solution will be available next year. Rite Aid internal memo regarding Apple Pay Rite Aid's and CVS's moves are also in stark contrast to competitor Walgreens, which has fully embraced Apple Pay and is one of Apple's launch partners for the service. With over 8,000 stores around the United States, Walgreens has been one of the most popular locations for those testing out Apple Pay over the first week of availability. Recent Mac and iOS Blog Stories • How to Get 'Handoff' Working in OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 • Buyer's Guide: Discounts on Original iPad Air, iPad Mini 2, MacBook Air, and Apple Accessories • iHeartRadio for iOS Updated with Support for CarPlay • Powerful Image Editing App 'Pixelmator' Comes to the iPad • Facebook Announces Anonymous Chat App 'Rooms' • Apple's TestFlight Beta Testing Service Now Available for Developers • Discarded Power Mac G5s 'Upcycled' Into Modern Office Furniture • Foxconn Looking to Build $5.7 Billion iPhone Display Factory to Win Apple Orders

Posted by on 25 October 2014 | 9:56 am

First Week OS X Yosemite Adoption Rates Slightly Outpacing Mavericks

Six days after being made available to the public, OS X Yosemite was installed on approximately 12.8 percent of Macs in North America, according to adoption numbers released by Chitika. That's just a slight bit higher than the 12.4 percent of Macs Mavericks was installed on six days after its release in 2013. Ahead of its launch, Yosemite adoption by beta testers and developers was more than 33 times higher than the adoption of Mavericks, and as measured by Chitika, its one percent share of North American Mac OS X-based Web traffic on the first day after release was double the day one adoption rate of Mavericks and Mountain Lion. OS X Yosemite may be seeing slightly faster adoption rates as the operating system introduces a complete visual overhaul along with several features that allow it to deeply integrate with iOS 8. While Mavericks focused heavily on under-the-hood updates that improved battery life and responsiveness, OS X Yosemite brought revamped apps, Continuity, Notification Center improvements, iCloud Drive, and more. Chitika also speculates that the OS's public beta may have positively impacted its adoption numbers.Apple had previously made a public beta of the OS available for the first time in the company's history, and this seems to have helped boost initial adoption rates slightly beyond what was observed for OS X Mavericks back in 2013.Chitika's numbers are drawn from millions of U.S. and Canadian Mac OS X-based online ad impressions from the Chitika Ad Network. Chitika measured ad impressions from October 16 to October 22 to acquire its data. Similar but somewhat higher numbers are being reported by GoSquared, which offers real-time analytics that measure OS X traffic. Yosemite installation numbers from GoSquared According to the site, Yosemite is installed on approximately 16 percent of Macs, though numbers fluctuated up to 10 percent over a seven day period as GoSquared measures real-time visits to more than 50,000 sites. Yosemite installation rates over the past 7 days, measured by GoSquared Released on October 16, OS X Yosemite is available from the Mac App Store as a free download. It is compatible with all Macs that were previously able to run Mountain Lion and Mavericks. [Direct Link] Recent Mac and iOS Blog Stories • How to Get 'Handoff' Working in OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 • Buyer's Guide: Discounts on Original iPad Air, iPad Mini 2, MacBook Air, and Apple Accessories • iHeartRadio for iOS Updated with Support for CarPlay • Powerful Image Editing App 'Pixelmator' Comes to the iPad • Facebook Announces Anonymous Chat App 'Rooms' • Apple's TestFlight Beta Testing Service Now Available for Developers • Discarded Power Mac G5s 'Upcycled' Into Modern Office Furniture • Foxconn Looking to Build $5.7 Billion iPhone Display Factory to Win Apple Orders

Posted by on 24 October 2014 | 6:49 pm

Apple Submits Revised Plans for Second Phase of New Campus Construction

Apple has submitted Apple Campus Phase 2 architectural and site refinement plans to the City of Cupertino, signaling its readiness to begin the second phase of construction on its spaceship campus as soon as first phase construction has been completed. In a massive 72 page PDF, Apple outlines revised plans for a set of research and development buildings located to the east and west of North Tantau Avenue, adjacent to the main circular campus building. While Apple has already received approval for the second phase of construction, the updated documents address specific changes the company is hoping to make to the area. Constructed in a 600,000 square foot space, the Tantau Development will house 2,200 employees and will include parking facilities with 1,740 parking spots. The main Tantau building will include four stories of office space for employees along with a built-in cafeteria. Two other buildings will house two-story testing facilities. According to the revised documents, Apple's original plans for the area are largely intact, but some minor refinements have been made to address building size/height and the location of the parking facilities. The company originally planned for a parking basement, but has now shifted its plans to include both a smaller basement and a larger above ground parking structure, along with an underground server room. Apple also changed the size of the prospective cafeteria somewhat in order to accommodate more office space, and shifted the sizes of some of its planned research facilities. Apple originally planned to begin development on the Tantau buildings alongside construction of the main circular campus building, but the company ended up pushing back all development on the site to a second phase of construction in order to cut down on initial construction costs. It is unclear when construction on the Tantau buildings might begin, but Apple is scheduled to complete its main campus building in 2016. A city hearing to consider the updated plans will take place on November 15, 2014. Recent Mac and iOS Blog Stories • iHeartRadio for iOS Updated with Support for CarPlay • Powerful Image Editing App 'Pixelmator' Comes to the iPad • Facebook Announces Anonymous Chat App 'Rooms' • Apple's TestFlight Beta Testing Service Now Available for Developers • Discarded Power Mac G5s 'Upcycled' Into Modern Office Furniture • Foxconn Looking to Build $5.7 Billion iPhone Display Factory to Win Apple Orders • Apple to Open 25 New Stores in China Over Next Two Years, Says CEO Tim Cook • How to Use 'Instant Hotspot' On a Mac with OS X Yosemite

Posted by on 24 October 2014 | 2:36 pm

AT&T Locking Apple Interchangeable SIMs in iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 [Updated]

Apple's new Apple SIM card in the iPad Air 2 and the Retina iPad mini 3 is designed to be universal, usable across a variety of wireless carriers in the US and UK, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and UK's EE. According to user reports in the MacRumors forums and on Twitter, however, AT&T is not supporting this interchangeability and is locking the SIM included with cellular models of the iPad Air 2 and Retina iPad mini 3 after it is used with an AT&T plan. Image via John Legere A newly posted Apple support document details what happens to the SIM when it is activated on US carriers.Using Apple SIM, you can choose from different cellular carriers and their various programs. The data plans vary by carrier. For instance, in the United States, you can choose a domestic plan from either Sprint or T-Mobile and also pick an alternate plan from the other carrier as needed. When you choose AT&T on iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, AT&T dedicates Apple SIM to their network only.AT&T appears to be the only participating carrier that is locking the Apple SIM to its network. T-Mobile's John Legere has indicated that T-Mobile's process does not lock a customer in to T-Mobile, which appears to be confirmed by Apple's support document, and Sprint's process also seems to leave the Apple SIM unlocked and able to be used with other carrier plans. Verizon, the fourth major carrier in the United States, did not opt to allow the Apple SIM to work with its network. According to the Apple support document, when an Apple SIM becomes locked to a specific network like AT&T, purchasing a new Apple SIM from an Apple Retail store will allow an iPad to be usable with other carrier programs. Apple introduced its universal SIM alongside the iPad Air 2 and Retina iPad mini 3 on October 16. It is the first SIM provided by Apple that is designed to work across multiple carriers. Update 12:10 PM PT: An AT&T spokesperson confirmed to Re/code that AT&T customers who use the Apple SIM with AT&T will need a different SIM card to switch carriers. "With us you can change carriers with this iPad any time you want," he said. "It is an unlocked device. ... All [you] have to do is switch out the SIM in the device so it works on another carrier."AT&T did not explain why it opted to lock the SIM card to its network, however, with the spokesperson saying "it's just simply the way we've chosen to do it." Recent Mac and iOS Blog Stories • iHeartRadio for iOS Updated with Support for CarPlay • Powerful Image Editing App 'Pixelmator' Comes to the iPad • Facebook Announces Anonymous Chat App 'Rooms' • Apple's TestFlight Beta Testing Service Now Available for Developers • Discarded Power Mac G5s 'Upcycled' Into Modern Office Furniture • Foxconn Looking to Build $5.7 Billion iPhone Display Factory to Win Apple Orders • Apple to Open 25 New Stores in China Over Next Two Years, Says CEO Tim Cook • How to Use 'Instant Hotspot' On a Mac with OS X Yosemite

Posted by on 24 October 2014 | 12:54 pm

iPad Mini 3 Teardown Reveals NFC Controller for Apple Pay, Hot Glued Home Button

After tearing down the iPad Air 2 earlier this week, iFixit has now moved on to the iPad mini 3, which also received a minor update during Apple's October 16 iPad event. Unlike the iPad Air 2, the iPad mini 3 saw few internal improvements, gaining a new gold color option and a Touch ID fingerprint sensor. As expected, iFixit's teardown reveals many of the same parts that were used in first Retina iPad mini, now called the iPad mini 2. It continues to use the same 7.9-inch display, A7 processor with M7 coprocessor, 5-megapixel camera, and 802.11n Wi-Fi. There is one new addition, which is directly related to Touch ID and the iPad mini 3's ability to support in-app Apple Pay payments. Like the iPad Air 2, the iPad mini 3 includes a 65V10 NFC controller manufactured by NXP. NFC Controller in blue There is no accompanying NFC antenna to allow the tablet to make NFC-based payments within stores, but there has been strong speculation suggesting the NFC chip is where Apple Pay's "Secure Element" is located. According to Apple, the Secure Element is a dedicated chip that stores encrypted Device Account Numbers, which replace credit card numbers for security reasons. Though the iPad mini 3 and the iPad Air 2 are not able to make payments within stores, they can make Apple Pay payments within participating apps and thus utilize both the Secure Element and Device Account Numbers. NXP's own site details the use of a specific integrated circuit designed for handling and storing secure data on its website, stating the technology has been integrated into its NFC controller chips. While the 65V10 is not mentioned by name, its appearance in both the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 suggests that it is indeed being used for its security function rather than its NFC function. Aside from the inclusion of the 65V10 NFC chip, which is located in a spot on the logic board that was previously left blank, there are few other notable features about the iPad mini 3. iFixit did find that the tablet has new home button cabling to support Touch ID and home button brackets that are securely affixed by hot glue, which makes removing the home button a much more difficult task. Like the Touch ID cable in the iPhone 5s, the location of the Touch ID cable in the iPad mini 3 makes screen repairs very difficult, as the cable is easy to sever when opening up the display. Due to the glue and the precarious position of the Touch ID cable, the iPad mini 3 earned a repairability score of 2 out of 10 from iFixit. Apple's iPad mini 3 is currently available in both retail stores and from Apple's online store, with prices that start at $399. Recent Mac and iOS Blog Stories • iHeartRadio for iOS Updated with Support for CarPlay • Powerful Image Editing App 'Pixelmator' Comes to the iPad • Facebook Announces Anonymous Chat App 'Rooms' • Apple's TestFlight Beta Testing Service Now Available for Developers • Discarded Power Mac G5s 'Upcycled' Into Modern Office Furniture • Foxconn Looking to Build $5.7 Billion iPhone Display Factory to Win Apple Orders • Apple to Open 25 New Stores in China Over Next Two Years, Says CEO Tim Cook • How to Use 'Instant Hotspot' On a Mac with OS X Yosemite

Posted by on 24 October 2014 | 12:43 pm

iTunes Digital Music Sales Fall 13 Percent as Apple Prepares Beats Music Refresh

Apple's digital music sales continue to spiral downward, falling more than 13 percent worldwide thus far in 2014, reports The Wall Street Journal. Last year, digital music sales dropped for the first time since iTunes opened in 2003, falling 5.7 percent year-over-year. This continued decline is likely one of the reasons behind Apple's $3 billion acquisition of Beats Electronics and Beats Music earlier this year. Apple may be hoping to offset this drop in digital music revenue with increased subscription revenue from Beats Music. The plummeting download numbers help illustrate why Apple bought the $10-a-month subscription streaming service Beats Music earlier this year, as part of its $3 billion acquisition that included headphone maker Beats Electronics. Apple is rebuilding Beats Music and plans to relaunch it next year as part of iTunes, according to a person familiar with the matter. To attract a broader customer base, Apple is rumored to be revamping Beats Music with an expected relaunch of the service slated for next year. The Cupertino company also is pushing for an industry-leading $5 monthly subscription cost that may increase the number of subscribers willing to pay for a premium service. Apple is not new to the streaming music business, having launched iTunes Radio last year alongside iOS 7. The Pandora-like service has reportedly failed to achieve its goals of spurring listeners to purchase tracks from the iTunes Store despite being bundled on millions of phones in its available regions, and has yet to expand beyond the United States and Australia. Recent Mac and iOS Blog Stories • iHeartRadio for iOS Updated with Support for CarPlay • Powerful Image Editing App 'Pixelmator' Comes to the iPad • Facebook Announces Anonymous Chat App 'Rooms' • Apple's TestFlight Beta Testing Service Now Available for Developers • Discarded Power Mac G5s 'Upcycled' Into Modern Office Furniture • Foxconn Looking to Build $5.7 Billion iPhone Display Factory to Win Apple Orders • Apple to Open 25 New Stores in China Over Next Two Years, Says CEO Tim Cook • How to Use 'Instant Hotspot' On a Mac with OS X Yosemite

Posted by on 24 October 2014 | 12:01 pm

NFC-Equipped iPad Air 2 Sparks Speculation of Future Apple Pay Registers for Small Businesses [Updated]

Earlier this week, a teardown analysis of the iPad Air 2 by iFixit surprisingly revealed the presence of a near field communications (NFC) controller chip that is identical to the one inside the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Apple never advertised the Air 2 as having NFC, and the tablet doesn't support contactless Apple Pay payments, so the inclusion of this chip is somewhat puzzling. In a new article, Gigaom examines the reasons why Apple might include but not activate this hardware in its tablet device, speculating that the chip may eventually serve to help small businesses process payments. Portion of iPad Air 2 logic board showing NFC chip boxed in red (Source: iFixit) In this scenario, the iPad Air 2 would serve as a cash register, potentially using the onboard NFC chip to process wireless Apple Pay payments without any additional hardware. The iPad already is gaining traction with small retailers for use as a mobile register, often in conjunction with a credit card reader and processing service such as Square. But with Apple Pay rolling out as an NFC system for payments, Apple could be eventually be looking to help retailers accept such payments with its hardware.The key to NFC in the iPad Air 2 is that it affords the possibility of becoming an Apple Pay cash register with no dongle needed. Conceivably, it could expand the number of outlets that take Apple Pay from around 40 to anyone selling stuff who owns the latest iPad. It brings Apple Pay out from the big box store and into farmers’ markets and boutiques.Such a system would appear to complement rather than replace existing credit card implementations used by small businesses, as Apple Pay currently has only limited distribution through the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and retailers would still need to accept traditional credit and debit cards. Businesses also still require credit card processing arrangements through either a bank or a separate payment service such as Square. Apple Pay launched earlier this week with only a few hiccups in an otherwise smooth release. Early reports were favorable with most users noting that transactions were processed quickly and easily. Its biggest limitation is distribution, with only large chain launch partners officially accepting the payment service. But as Apple Pay evolves, it will be interesting to see whether the NFC-equipped iPad Air 2 and small businesses will play a bigger role in Apple's mobile payment plans. Update: As pointed out by a number of readers, the lack of NFC antennas in the iPad Air 2 leaves it unclear how the iPad Air 2 could be used as payment receiver. Forum member GekkePrutser notes that the chip is likely included in the iPad because it houses the secure element where Apple Pay data is stored for the in-app payment feature that is supported on the new iPads. Recent Mac and iOS Blog Stories • iHeartRadio for iOS Updated with Support for CarPlay • Powerful Image Editing App 'Pixelmator' Comes to the iPad • Facebook Announces Anonymous Chat App 'Rooms' • Apple's TestFlight Beta Testing Service Now Available for Developers • Discarded Power Mac G5s 'Upcycled' Into Modern Office Furniture • Foxconn Looking to Build $5.7 Billion iPhone Display Factory to Win Apple Orders • Apple to Open 25 New Stores in China Over Next Two Years, Says CEO Tim Cook • How to Use 'Instant Hotspot' On a Mac with OS X Yosemite

Posted by on 24 October 2014 | 10:39 am

Amazon Visa Rewards Card Now Compatible With Apple Pay

According to reports on Twitter, Reddit and MacRumors forums, Amazon's Visa Rewards card is now compatible with Apple Pay. Amazon reportedly enabled the feature today, moving quickly to bring the mobile payments service to consumers who were disappointed in Amazon for not supporting Apple Pay at launch. Apple Pay launched on Monday with support from a large number of credit card companies and banks. Among the launch partners were Chase, which is the issuing bank for the Amazon Visa Rewards card. Amazon reportedly was the only Chase consumer card not supporting Apple Pay, sparking rumors that the retailer was deliberately rebuffing Apple's mobile payment efforts for competitive reasons. Hey, Amazon Chase Visa cards now work with Apple Pay, complete with Amazon logo on the card and all. That was fast.— Dave Rutledge (@_) October 24, 2014 Amazon dispelled these rumors by confirming it would enable Apple Pay soon, but few expected the rollout to happen so quickly. Customers with an Amazon Visa Rewards card should be able to add the credit card to Apple Pay with full support for mobile payments. Recent Mac and iOS Blog Stories • iHeartRadio for iOS Updated with Support for CarPlay • Powerful Image Editing App 'Pixelmator' Comes to the iPad • Facebook Announces Anonymous Chat App 'Rooms' • Apple's TestFlight Beta Testing Service Now Available for Developers • Discarded Power Mac G5s 'Upcycled' Into Modern Office Furniture • Foxconn Looking to Build $5.7 Billion iPhone Display Factory to Win Apple Orders • Apple to Open 25 New Stores in China Over Next Two Years, Says CEO Tim Cook • How to Use 'Instant Hotspot' On a Mac with OS X Yosemite

Posted by on 24 October 2014 | 8:10 am

Tim Cook Says Chinese Security Talks Were 'Very Open', Bringing Apple Pay to China a Priority

Tim Cook was optimistic about Apple's relationship with China following a meeting with top Chinese government officials in Beijing on Wednesday to discuss data privacy and security. Cook told China's Xinhua news agency (Via Reuters) that he had "very open" talks with a senior official. Chinese vice premier Ma Kai, a member of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau, met with the CEO of the world's most valuable company on Wednesday morning. They had discussed a series of topics including privacy and security. Cook described it as "very open", "fascinating" and "impressive", but he declined specifics. As part of the interview, Cook also confirmed Apple's plan to launch Apple Pay and other technologies in China saying, "China is a really key market for us. Everything we do, we are going to work it here. Apple Pay is on the top of the list." Cook spoke to Xinhua News during his 4-day-long trip to China, which saw the CEO also visit a Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou City. China is an increasingly important market for the Cupertino company, which now has 16 percent of the smartphone market share behind Samsung (23 percent) and Xiaomi (21 percent). Apple plans to expand its presence even further in the country by opening 25 new stores in the next two years. Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts. Recent Mac and iOS Blog Stories • iHeartRadio for iOS Updated with Support for CarPlay • Powerful Image Editing App 'Pixelmator' Comes to the iPad • Facebook Announces Anonymous Chat App 'Rooms' • Apple's TestFlight Beta Testing Service Now Available for Developers • Discarded Power Mac G5s 'Upcycled' Into Modern Office Furniture • Foxconn Looking to Build $5.7 Billion iPhone Display Factory to Win Apple Orders • Apple to Open 25 New Stores in China Over Next Two Years, Says CEO Tim Cook • How to Use 'Instant Hotspot' On a Mac with OS X Yosemite

Posted by on 24 October 2014 | 8:09 am

'Continuity Activation Tool' Enables Handoff on Older Macs

With iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, Apple introduced "Continuity," a set of features designed to allow for deeper integration between Macs and iOS devices. Unfortunately, some Continuity features are limited to Macs with Bluetooth 4.0, which leaves many older Macs unable to access the new features. Additionally, even though the 2011 MacBook Air and 2011 Mac mini include Bluetooth 4.0, Apple has opted not to allow them to access Continuity features. Luckily, many resourceful members of the MacRumors forums have come up with solutions to allow them to enable Continuity on their older Macs, and discussion on our forums has led to the creation of a set of instructions and a Continuity Activation Tool that should get Continuity working on Macs unable to explicitly support the feature. Created by Dokterdok (based on instructions compiled by UncleSchnitty) and available on Github, the Continuity Activation Tool is designed to activate Continuity by doing a compatibility check, creating backups of original System drivers, and disabling a Mac-model blacklist in the Bluetooth code that prevents Continuity from working on ineligible Macs. From there, it also whitelists Mac board-ids within the Wi-Fi code to get the feature working. The tool can be downloaded as a zip file from Github and is installed by double clicking the app and following the instructions provided on the screen. The Continuity Activation Tool will enable Continuity on the mid-2011 MacBook Air and the mid-2011 Mac mini with no additional hardware required, as both of those devices include Bluetooth 4.0. That means installing the tool should get Continuity up and running on those machines in just a few minutes. On older Macs that do not come equipped with Bluetooth 4.0, new wireless cards will need to be installed, which makes it more difficult for casual users to get access to Continuity. USB dongles that provide Bluetooth 4.0 will not work with the Continuity Activation Tool, and a list of wireless cards that will provide Bluetooth 4.0 for each older Mac can be found on the MacRumors forums. Both MacRumors forum members and Redditors have confirmed that this method is able to successfully enable Continuity on a variety of Macs, including the mid-2011 MacBook Air, the early 2011 MacBook Pro, and the mid-2011 Mac mini. The Continuity Activation Tool appears to enable all Continuity features when used successfully, allowing older Macs to access Handoff, Instant Hotspot, SMS forwarding, and Mac phone calls without an issue. Some of these Continuity features may work already on older Macs as they use a variety of different connection methods ranging from Bluetooth to Wi-Fi, but the tool is confirmed to get Handoff and AirDrop, both of which require Bluetooth, to work. Users should exercise caution when using the Continuity Activation Tool, as it moves around low level files and there's a possibility it could cause problems. A backup is recommended before attempting to install the tool. Recent Mac and iOS Blog Stories • Discarded Power Mac G5s 'Upcycled' Into Modern Office Furniture • Foxconn Looking to Build $5.7 Billion iPhone Display Factory to Win Apple Orders • Apple to Open 25 New Stores in China Over Next Two Years, Says CEO Tim Cook • How to Use 'Instant Hotspot' On a Mac with OS X Yosemite • Olloclip Debuts New 4-in-1 Photo Lens for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus • Working Apple 1 Computer Sells for Record $905,000 at Auction • Amazon Confirms Plans to Support Apple Pay on Visa Rewards Card in the Future • Fantastical for iPhone and iPad Go iOS 8-Only With Widgets, Extensions, and More

Posted by on 23 October 2014 | 1:30 pm

Apple to Continue Evaluating GT's Sapphire Production Progress, Looking for New Uses for Arizona Plant

Earlier today, GT Advanced Technologies officially announced its settlement with Apple, which will see the two companies dissolving their partnership, ending their production agreement, and eliminating contractual ties that kept GT from selling its sapphire to other parties. Under the agreement, GT Advanced will be selling off its remaining sapphire, along with 2,000 sapphire furnaces, with much of the proceeds going to Apple to repay the $439 million loan it provided to get the operation underway. Apple has now commented on the settlement with GT Advanced, telling Re/code that GT's sapphire manufacturing process simply wasn't ready for production, and that a relationship in the future remains a possibility as the company's sapphire production techniques improve. GT will continue research work focused on creating sapphire boules over 165 kilograms. Apple also says that it is going to look for other ways to use the Mesa, Arizona facility that it purchased for GT Advanced, which will be unused after GT fully shuts down operations at the end of December"Apple put a lot of effort into an ambitious new sapphire manufacturing process with GTAT which is not ready for production. We're going to continue evaluating GTAT's progress on larger sapphire boule development, as well as consider other options for the facility. We remain committed to the city and we're going to work with Mesa and Maricopa County to help the GT Advanced employees who will be impacted by this find new jobs."GT Advanced first filed for bankruptcy at the beginning of October, but the company was reportedly missing technical milestones as early as February, hinting at the trouble to come. While Apple was widely expected to use sapphire from GT Advanced for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus displays, the company opted to stick with Corning's Gorilla Glass after it became apparent GT would not be able to produce sapphire of the quality that Apple required. Approximately 650 employees at the Mesa, Arizona sapphire plant have already been laid off, and a limited number of employees will remain employed until the end of the year in order to help GT Advanced wind down production at the factory, finishing the sapphire boules that are currently growing and shutting down and cleaning furnaces for storage and sale. Recent Mac and iOS Blog Stories • Discarded Power Mac G5s 'Upcycled' Into Modern Office Furniture • Foxconn Looking to Build $5.7 Billion iPhone Display Factory to Win Apple Orders • Apple to Open 25 New Stores in China Over Next Two Years, Says CEO Tim Cook • How to Use 'Instant Hotspot' On a Mac with OS X Yosemite • Olloclip Debuts New 4-in-1 Photo Lens for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus • Working Apple 1 Computer Sells for Record $905,000 at Auction • Amazon Confirms Plans to Support Apple Pay on Visa Rewards Card in the Future • Fantastical for iPhone and iPad Go iOS 8-Only With Widgets, Extensions, and More

Posted by on 23 October 2014 | 1:00 pm

Rite Aid Disables Apple Pay Support After Initially Accepting Payments

A growing number of Apple Pay users are angry with retailer Rite Aid following the reported disabling of the mobile payment service within the past 24 hours. Apple Pay should technically be compatible with any point-of-sale systems supporting NFC technology, but customers who made successful Apple Pay payments earlier this week have found their payments were being denied yesterday and today. Among the disgruntled users was Josh Hudnall, who shared his experiences and his conclusions that Rite Aid is deliberately crippling its payment systems to prevent Apple Pay transactions. Today, Allison asked me to pick up a few things on my way home from the office, and I’m a major nerd, so naturally I was all too happy to oblige. I was equally disappointed, then, when my transaction was declined with a message on the terminal informing me that Apple Pay was not supported. The terminal mentioned Apple Pay by name. So the system is smart enough to know about Apple Pay and to decide not to take it.Hudnall spoke to an associate who claims Rite Aid recently sent an email informing stores that the retailer is not accepting Apple Pay payments, and Hudnall speculates it is because Rite Aid is a supporter of the upcoming CurrentC payments system from Merchant Customer Exchange. Competitor Walgreens is also one of Apple's biggest launch partners for Apple Pay. According to Twitter reports, the retailer also unexpectedly turned off support for Google Wallet at the same time. Rite Aid has not confirmed the shut down of these services, nor commented publicly on these reports. @Futment @riteaid system IS compatible. @riteaid blocked it and Google Wallet today. Both worked yesterday. Bad business decision. — Yoshi (@YoshiTheShiba) October 22, 2014 Apple Pay launched earlier this week in a debut that was relatively smooth for most customers. As demoed in a McDonald's transaction, payments are processed almost instantly at supported terminals with the press of the Touch ID sensor on the phone. The most publicized hiccup occurred with Bank of America customers, who were accidentally charged twice for their purchases. Bank of America confirmed that the issue only affected a small number of users who will receive refunds. Recent Mac and iOS Blog Stories • Discarded Power Mac G5s 'Upcycled' Into Modern Office Furniture • Foxconn Looking to Build $5.7 Billion iPhone Display Factory to Win Apple Orders • Apple to Open 25 New Stores in China Over Next Two Years, Says CEO Tim Cook • How to Use 'Instant Hotspot' On a Mac with OS X Yosemite • Olloclip Debuts New 4-in-1 Photo Lens for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus • Working Apple 1 Computer Sells for Record $905,000 at Auction • Amazon Confirms Plans to Support Apple Pay on Visa Rewards Card in the Future • Fantastical for iPhone and iPad Go iOS 8-Only With Widgets, Extensions, and More

Posted by on 23 October 2014 | 11:37 am

Nike CEO Hints at Continued Partnership With Apple to Develop Stylish Fitness Wearables

Nike CEO Mark Parker sat down with Bloomberg's Stephanie Ruhle to discuss the company's brand and product strategy (via The Guardian). During the 13-minute-long "Market Makers" segment, Parker confirmed that he is bullish on Apple and the wearables market, hinting at a continued partnership between the two companies at the 9:45 mark. Though Nike recently discontinued further development on its FuelBand fitness wearables, the sports and fitness company is not ready to abandon the wearables market, instead waiting for the market to mature beyond it current geeky status. "I think it’s going to be a big part of the future, absolutely," said Parker. "I think the form it takes is critical. You can go from the very geeky kind of wearables today – we’ve all seen some of those – to what I think you’ll see in the future, things that are more stealth, more integrated, more stylish and more functional, yes." Echoing his earlier comments, Parker suggested Apple may be part of Nike's wearables strategy with the Nike CEO noting that the two companies that have a long history of working together can do things together they couldn't do alone. "Technologically we can do things together that we couldn’t do independently," Parker said. "So yeah, that’s part of our plan, to expand the whole digital frontier in terms of wearables, and go from what we say is tens of millions of users – right now there’s 25 million Nike+ users – to hundreds of millions." Parker wouldn't divulge details on any upcoming Apple-Nike collaborations, but the companies traditionally have worked together to promote each other's health and fitness technologies. Apple has sold the FuelBand fitness bracelet in its retail stores, while the Nike+ Move app was among the first to support the M7 motion co-processor in the iPhone 5s. The fitness partnership between Apple and Nike actually extends back to 2006 with the launch of Nike+iPod products such as the "Sport Kit" that allowed users to embed sensors in Nike shoes to wirelessly communicate exercise information to the iPod nano. Parker also has a long-term relationship with the Apple's leadership, having worked closely with both Steve Jobs and Tim Cook, with Cook having served on Nike's Board of Directors since 2005. Recent Mac and iOS Blog Stories • Foxconn Looking to Build $5.7 Billion iPhone Display Factory to Win Apple Orders • Apple to Open 25 New Stores in China Over Next Two Years, Says CEO Tim Cook • How to Use 'Instant Hotspot' On a Mac with OS X Yosemite • Olloclip Debuts New 4-in-1 Photo Lens for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus • Working Apple 1 Computer Sells for Record $905,000 at Auction • Amazon Confirms Plans to Support Apple Pay on Visa Rewards Card in the Future • Fantastical for iPhone and iPad Go iOS 8-Only With Widgets, Extensions, and More • FXNOW iOS App, Apple TV Gain Support for 'Simpsons World', All 552 Episodes of The Simpsons Available

Posted by on 23 October 2014 | 9:24 am

GT Advanced Technologies Officially Announces Sapphire Settlement With Apple

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Apple and its sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies had reached an agreement to effectively dissolve their partnership and allow GT to shut down operations at the Apple-owned sapphire production plant in Mesa, Arizona. Under the deal, GT will seek to sell off the over 2,000 sapphire furnaces currently installed at the facility, with the majority of the proceeds from those sales going to Apple to help repay $439 million in loans Apple made to help the operation get underway. GT has now officially announced the deal and published the full agreement, redacting only the amounts Apple will be paid per furnace sold.Under the terms of the settlement agreement, which is subject to approval by the Bankruptcy Court, GT will be released from all exclusivity obligations under its various agreements with Apple. GT will retain ownership of all production, ancillary and inventory assets located in Mesa and Apple is provided with a mechanism for recovering its $439 million pre-payment made to GT over a period of up to four years without interest, solely from a portion of the proceeds from ASF® [Advanced Sapphire Furnace] sales. The agreement provides for a mutual release of any and all claims by both parties. As a result of the agreed upon terms, GT retains control of its intellectual property and will be able to sell its sapphire growth and fabrication technology, including ASF and Hyperion™, without restrictions.While the two companies are severing their production agreement, they will remain in contact as GT continues its research work focused on producing larger sapphire boules of over 165 kilograms. The two companies will meet at least quarterly to discuss GT's progress on that front, with potential collaboration still possible if both sides agree to move forward. GT filed for bankruptcy earlier this month as it became clear the company was spending over a million dollars per day to run the operation even as it was apparently unable to produce sapphire of the quality required by Apple. GT's troubles began as early as February as it was late in meeting milestones to qualify for Apple loan payments. Apple's continued withholding of the final $139 million payment may ultimately have resulted in GT deciding to pull the plug on the operation, even as Apple reportedly continued to try to help overcome GT's technical problems. GT is looking to wind down its sapphire production operation by the end of the year, wrapping up sapphire boule production currently underway and decommissioning the furnaces to prepare them for storage and resale. Roughly 650 employees at the Arizona plant have already been laid off, and the company will continue to lay off additional employees across its locations as it brings the production partnership with Apple to an end. (Image: GT's Advanced Sapphire Furnace) Recent Mac and iOS Blog Stories • Foxconn Looking to Build $5.7 Billion iPhone Display Factory to Win Apple Orders • Apple to Open 25 New Stores in China Over Next Two Years, Says CEO Tim Cook • How to Use 'Instant Hotspot' On a Mac with OS X Yosemite • Olloclip Debuts New 4-in-1 Photo Lens for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus • Working Apple 1 Computer Sells for Record $905,000 at Auction • Amazon Confirms Plans to Support Apple Pay on Visa Rewards Card in the Future • Fantastical for iPhone and iPad Go iOS 8-Only With Widgets, Extensions, and More • FXNOW iOS App, Apple TV Gain Support for 'Simpsons World', All 552 Episodes of The Simpsons Available

Posted by on 23 October 2014 | 8:53 am

Christian Bale Hired for Steve Jobs Role in Sorkin Biopic Without Auditioning

Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin has confirmed in a Bloomberg interview that actor Christian Bale will indeed star as Steve Jobs in Sorkin's upcoming biopic based on Walter Isaacson's 2011 biography of the Apple co-founder. Bale, who was said last week to be in talks for the role, met with Sorkin but did not have to audition for the part. “We needed the best actor on the board in a certain age range and that’s Chris Bale,” Sorkin told Bloomberg Television’s Emily Chang on a coming edition of “Studio 1.0.” “He didn’t have to audition. Well, there was a meeting.” Shooting for the film will begin in the coming months in what will be a challenging role for the established actor. Bale reportedly will appear in every frame of the movie with speaking parts that exceed three movies combined. The movie will focus on three 30-minute scenes that detail three different product launches. The movie will be released by Sony, with Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle of Slumdog Millionaire fame associated with the project. Recent Mac and iOS Blog Stories • Apple to Open 25 New Stores in China Over Next Two Years, Says CEO Tim Cook • How to Use 'Instant Hotspot' On a Mac with OS X Yosemite • Olloclip Debuts New 4-in-1 Photo Lens for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus • Working Apple 1 Computer Sells for Record $905,000 at Auction • Amazon Confirms Plans to Support Apple Pay on Visa Rewards Card in the Future • Fantastical for iPhone and iPad Go iOS 8-Only With Widgets, Extensions, and More • FXNOW iOS App, Apple TV Gain Support for 'Simpsons World', All 552 Episodes of The Simpsons Available • Staples Begins Accepting iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 Pre-Orders

Posted by on 23 October 2014 | 8:13 am

iFixit Tears Down iPad Air 2, Confirms Smaller Battery, A8X Chip, and 2GB RAM

Now that the iPad Air 2 is being delivered to customers and showing up in retail Apple Stores, iFixit has acquired one of the new tablets and has begun one of its traditional teardowns to see just what's inside Apple's thinner, more powerful iPad Air 2. According to iFixit, the "gapless" front panel is more rigid than previous iPad models, and feels sturdier when it's being pried up with the company's proprietary iOpener. As with all iPads, the glued down display is the only access point to the tablet. As noted in reviews, the iPad Air 2 has a smaller battery than the original iPad Air, coming in at 27.62 Whr and 7,340 mAh. The first generation tablet had a 8,827 mAh/32.9 Whr battery life. iFixit's teardown confirms the existence of both the more powerful A8X processor and 2GB of Elpida F8164A3MD RAM, with two separate 1GB RAM chips located on either side of the A8X processor. Based on Elpida's RAM numbering scheme, the "8" located in the second character slot indicates that each chip is 1GB. 2GB on a single chip would be denoted with an "A". The tablet also has 16GB of flash memory from SK Hynix and the same NXP 65V10 NFC module that was used in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but it does not appear to have an NFC antenna. Apple has said that the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 will not be able to make in-store Apple Pay payments. The iPad Air 2's Touch ID sensor cable appears to be very similar to the sensor cable found in the new iPhones, and the Touch ID sensor itself was made by NXP Semiconductors. The 8-megapixel camera is similar to the camera in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus as well, but they are not identical. The iPad Air 2's ambient light sensor has been split into two sensors, with one now located on the headphone jack, possibly for improved accuracy. Along with the repositioning of several internal microphone and camera components, the Wi-Fi model's antennas, previously located at the bottom of the tablet, have been moved to the top of the iPad. iFixit has also confirmed that Smart Covers designed for the previous-generation iPad Air will work with the iPad Air 2. Apple's iPad Air 2 is currently available for order online, with new orders shipping in two to four days. Wi-Fi only models are also available in retail stores as of today, with Wi-Fi + Cellular models coming at a later date. Prices for the new iPad Air 2 start at $499. Recent Mac and iOS Blog Stories • Olloclip Debuts New 4-in-1 Photo Lens for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus • Working Apple 1 Computer Sells for Record $905,000 at Auction • Amazon Confirms Plans to Support Apple Pay on Visa Rewards Card in the Future • Fantastical for iPhone and iPad Go iOS 8-Only With Widgets, Extensions, and More • FXNOW iOS App, Apple TV Gain Support for 'Simpsons World', All 552 Episodes of The Simpsons Available • Staples Begins Accepting iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 Pre-Orders • The Pokemon Company Releases Second Official Pokemon Game for iOS • Buyer's Guide Deals: Discounts on the Original iPad Air and iPad Mini 2

Posted by on 22 October 2014 | 5:23 pm

iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 Now Available In Stores via Personal Pickup

Apple's new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 have begun hitting retail stores, as we reported earlier, and the tablets are now available for in-store pickup for a limited number of retail locations that have received shipments. It appears that in-store availability is limited to Wi-Fi only tablets at this time. Many stores on the east coast of the United States are showing wide availability of both tablets as stores receive shipments and unpack boxes. Availability on the west coast is still limited as it is earlier in the day and stores are not yet prepared to begin retail sales. Apple store employees appear to be unaware that stores are receiving stock today, as several phone calls placed by MacRumors resulted in responses suggesting the tablets would not arrive in stores until later in the week or early next week. The iPad Air 2 is still showing shipping estimates of two to four days when ordered online, and some rumors have suggested that supplies are limited, which explains the tablet's quiet in-store release. At announcement, Apple declined to state when the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 would be available in retail stores. Apple's iPad mini 3, meanwhile, appears to be available in greater supply, displaying shipping estimates of 24 hours. iPad mini 3 pricing starts at $399 for the entry-level model, while iPad Air 2 pricing starts at $499. While the iPad mini 3 received only Touch ID and a gold color option, the iPad Air 2 has seen significant updates including a thinner design, a new "gapless" display, an anti-reflective coating, 2GB of RAM, an A8X processor, and an upgraded 8-megapixel camera. Recent Mac and iOS Blog Stories • Amazon Confirms Plans to Support Apple Pay on Visa Rewards Card in the Future • Fantastical for iPhone and iPad Go iOS 8-Only With Widgets, Extensions, and More • FXNOW iOS App, Apple TV Gain Support for 'Simpsons World', All 552 Episodes of The Simpsons Available • Staples Begins Accepting iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 Pre-Orders • The Pokemon Company Releases Second Official Pokemon Game for iOS • Buyer's Guide Deals: Discounts on the Original iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 • T-Mobile to Offer $0 Down iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 Pre-Orders Tomorrow • Apple Opening Second Retail Store in Turkey This Saturday, October 25

Posted by on 22 October 2014 | 2:28 pm

Apple Encouraging Chrome and Firefox Users to Try Safari After Installing Yosemite

Chrome and Firefox users that install OS X Yosemite are receiving notifications suggesting they give Safari a try, according to multiple reports on Twitter (via Tom Davenport). After upgrading to Yosemite, Apple is sending popups that read "Try the new Safari. Fast, energy efficient, and with a beautiful new design." The interactive notification comes with "Later" and "Try Now" options, and it seems that users may be receiving the messages when opening Chrome or Firefox for the first time after installing the operating system update. Apple made several updates to Safari in OS X Yosemite, including adding a new "blazing-fast [Nitro] JavaScript engine" and energy saving technologies to make Safari both faster and more energy efficient. According to Apple, Safari is significantly faster than both Firefox and Chrome, a claim that was tested by CNET and received mixed results. Safari did better on Apple's JetStream and Speedometer benchmarks that measure JavaScript performance, and it also outperformed Chrome and Firefox using JSBench, but CNET's testing saw it perform worse on Google's Octane benchmark and Mozilla's Kraken benchmark. The new Safari 8 did demonstrate significant improvements over Safari 7, scoring 81 percent better on JetStream and 89 percent better on Speedometer, suggesting Apple has indeed made some major under-the-hood improvements to the browser. Along with speed improvements, Safari gained some new security features, including DuckDuckGo support and isolated Private Browsing windows that allow users to have a non-private browsing window open at the same time as a private browsing window. The browser also continues to offer third-party cookie blocking, malware monitoring, and sandboxing for websites. Safari received a complete visual overhaul in OS X Yosemite, introducing a new streamlined look that does away with the favorites bar by default and a revamped Tab View that displays all open tabs in a tiled arrangement, much like iOS. Safari has also benefitted from Handoff, a Continuity feature that allows users to open a webpage on a Mac and seamlessly continue browsing on an iOS device (or vice versa), and the browser natively supports Netflix, providing two extra hours of battery life when watching movies or TV shows. Built into OS X Yosemite, Safari 8 is automatically installed alongside the new operating system. Released on October 16, Yosemite is estimated to be installed on approximately 20 percent of Macs at this point in time. Recent Mac and iOS Blog Stories • Amazon Confirms Plans to Support Apple Pay on Visa Rewards Card in the Future • Fantastical for iPhone and iPad Go iOS 8-Only With Widgets, Extensions, and More • FXNOW iOS App, Apple TV Gain Support for 'Simpsons World', All 552 Episodes of The Simpsons Available • Staples Begins Accepting iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 Pre-Orders • The Pokemon Company Releases Second Official Pokemon Game for iOS • Buyer's Guide Deals: Discounts on the Original iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 • T-Mobile to Offer $0 Down iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 Pre-Orders Tomorrow • Apple Opening Second Retail Store in Turkey This Saturday, October 25

Posted by on 22 October 2014 | 2:21 pm

Bank of America Glitch Causes Apple Pay Users to Be Charged Twice for Purchases [Updated]

With Apple Pay positioned as a brand new service that requires banks, credit card companies, and vendors to all work together, it seems that some glitches in the system are inevitable. Some Bank of America customers have been running into a serious problem when using Apple Pay to make purchases, with two charges showing up on their credit card statements. A CNN report from this morning first suggested that multiple Bank of America customers had been double charged, which Bloomberg later confirmed. Hundreds of customers are said to be affected. A Bank of America representative contacted by CNN said that the issue was on Apple Pay's end and after some confusion about who should be contacted for a refund, Bank of America was able to refund the money.Bank of America transferred me to Apple Pay customer support. The only problem: Apple's representative reminded me that for security's sake -- as promised -- Apple keeps no records of names or amounts for any of the transactions. That meant there's nothing Apple could do, the representative told me. So Apple told me to call Bank of America. It was every consumer's worst nightmare: customer service for two companies telling you to call the other. Thank God for three-way calling. I got Apple and Bank of America on the same line and let them sort it out. BofA was smart enough to refund me the money, because they said it was obvious to them that these were duplicate charges for the same exact amount.Bank of America is planning to issue refunds to all Apple Pay customers who were double charged, and according to CNN, a fix for the problem is expected to be released at some point on Wednesday."We apologize for the inconvenience and are working to correct the issue. All customers have been made whole," said Tara Burke, a spokeswoman for Bank of America. "We are always here for our customers and resolve any issues they have."Banking issues aren't the only problem Apple Pay users are facing. According to a quick test conducted by Business Insider at eleven different retailers, many employees have little knowledge about Apple Pay. At eight separate locations, store clerks did not know whether or not they accepted Apple Pay, and only employees at McDonald's, Whole Foods, and American Eagle Outfitters were aware of the service. The site had considerably difficulty conducting a return at American Eagle Outfitters, as the store cashiers had not been taught how to do them, but a refund was received "after a period of trial-and-error." There's also a minor Apple Pay glitch that's causing some credit cards to display the wrong card design within the Passbook app, affecting some Chase and Citibank card users, but a fix for that issue is said to be in the works, according to 9to5Mac. Many of the kinks with Apple Pay will be worked out over the coming weeks, as retail employees adapt to the new payments service and banks and credit cards work out remaining bugs and issues. According to Apple's Eddy Cue, Apple Pay will be a "game changer." "There's a lot to do here and we have a lot of work to do, but it should be huge," he said in an interview. Rolled out on Monday through an update to iOS 8.1, Apple Pay is accepted at more than 200,000 retail locations, wherever NFC contactless payments are available. It is also available in an array of apps that have adopted the Apple Pay API, including Uber, Target, and Apple's own Apple Store app. Update 1:22 PM: Bank of America has confirmed to Re/code that the problem is the result of an issue between the bank and at least one payment processor and that Apple is not involved. A fix is expected today, and roughly 1,000 customers were affected by the double billing. Update 1:50 PM: An Apple spokesperson told Bank Innovation that Bank of America is working on a fix and that the issue is impacting only a small number of Apple Pay users."Apple Pay is off to an amazing start and customers are loving the easy, secure and private way to pay. We're aware of a Bank of America issue impacting a very small number of Apple Pay users. They're working on a fix that will be available shortly and reversing any duplicate transactions." Recent Mac and iOS Blog Stories • Amazon Confirms Plans to Support Apple Pay on Visa Rewards Card in the Future • Fantastical for iPhone and iPad Go iOS 8-Only With Widgets, Extensions, and More • FXNOW iOS App, Apple TV Gain Support for 'Simpsons World', All 552 Episodes of The Simpsons Available • Staples Begins Accepting iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 Pre-Orders • The Pokemon Company Releases Second Official Pokemon Game for iOS • Buyer's Guide Deals: Discounts on the Original iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 • T-Mobile to Offer $0 Down iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 Pre-Orders Tomorrow • Apple Opening Second Retail Store in Turkey This Saturday, October 25

Posted by on 22 October 2014 | 1:21 pm

MasterCard Airs 'Priceless Surprises' World Series Ads Featuring Apple Pay

Earlier this week, Major League Baseball and MasterCard announced a partnership that has seen Apple Pay support roll out at concession stands at ballparks in San Francisco and Kansas City for the World Series. As part of its World Series promotional push, MasterCard also debuted a pair of television ads during last night's Game 1, featuring Apple Pay and the company's "Priceless Surprises" program that has seen cardholders surprised with various rewards. One spot features former New York Yankees star Mariano Rivera and longtime Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, while the second features Kansas City Royals legend George Brett, with MasterCard promoting surprises such as meet-and-greets with the stars and tickets to World Series games. On its Priceless Surprises website, MasterCard notes it has surprised over 70,000 cardholders with various rewards, and now Apple Pay gives users more ways to win. Apple launched its Apple Pay mobile payments service on Monday with the debut of iOS 8.1, with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus supporting the service in-store and in apps, while the new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 support it for in-app purchases only. MasterCard, Visa, and American Express have all signed onto the program, as have over 500 banks and a number of major retailers. Launching first in the United States, Apple Pay is now accepted at over 200,000 points of sale and the cards and banks responsible for the vast majority of U.S. credit card spending are compatible with the service. Recent Mac and iOS Blog Stories • Fantastical for iPhone and iPad Go iOS 8-Only With Widgets, Extensions, and More • FXNOW iOS App, Apple TV Gain Support for 'Simpsons World', All 552 Episodes of The Simpsons Available • Staples Begins Accepting iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 Pre-Orders • The Pokemon Company Releases Second Official Pokemon Game for iOS • Buyer's Guide Deals: Discounts on the Original iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 • T-Mobile to Offer $0 Down iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 Pre-Orders Tomorrow • Apple Opening Second Retail Store in Turkey This Saturday, October 25 • Apple Looking to Produce More iPhone 6 Plus Units Due to Strong Demand in China

Posted by on 22 October 2014 | 10:10 am

iPad Air 2 and Retina Mini iPad 3 Pre-Orders Arrive as Apple Begins In-Store Sales

Following the launch of pre-orders last Friday, Apple's new iPad Air 2 and Retina iPad mini 3 models are now making their way into customers' hands and onto retail store shelves. According to The Inquirer and reports from MacRumors readers, pre-orders are now being delivered, and the tablets are now available for purchase online and in store. Customers in launch countries of the UK and Australia started receiving their tablets today and have already posted unboxing videos. Unlike the iPhone 6 which featured a plain white box, customers report the box for the iPad Air 2 is similar to the original iPad Air with a color representation of the iPad on the cover. Apple's online store also is still accepting orders with delivery dates of 2 to 4 days for most iPad Air 2 models. In-store pickup for the Air 2 is not available yet for online shoppers, but we have heard from multiple sources that Wi-Fi models are arriving at at least some of Apple's own retail stores for sale beginning today. Based on online ordering, iPad mini 3 supplies are more abundant, with most Wi-Fi models currently available within 24 hours and cellular models shipping in 1-3 days. Apple announced the iPad Air 2 last week, highlighting the device's new A8X processor, Touch ID sensor and improved camera. Early benchmarks suggest the iPad Air 2 is up to 55 percent faster than the iPhone 6 and 68 percent faster than last year's iPad Air. The first round of reviews of the Air 2 point out benefits such as a thinner profile and vibrant display, while also noting a slight decrease in battery life compared to the previous generation. While the Air 2 has received fairly strong reviews, the iPad mini 3 has been less well received with most reviews noting the device's similarity to the iPad mini 2. The iPad mini 3 ships with the same processor and camera options as its predecessor, with the only notable improvements being a Touch ID fingerprint sensor and a new gold option. The iPad Air 2 is available with a starting price of $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi-only model, with equivalent cellular models available for $130 more. The iPad mini 3 starts at $399 and is available in Wi-Fi-only and cellular configurations. Recent Mac and iOS Blog Stories • Fantastical for iPhone and iPad Go iOS 8-Only With Widgets, Extensions, and More • FXNOW iOS App, Apple TV Gain Support for 'Simpsons World', All 552 Episodes of The Simpsons Available • Staples Begins Accepting iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 Pre-Orders • The Pokemon Company Releases Second Official Pokemon Game for iOS • Buyer's Guide Deals: Discounts on the Original iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 • T-Mobile to Offer $0 Down iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 Pre-Orders Tomorrow • Apple Opening Second Retail Store in Turkey This Saturday, October 25 • Apple Looking to Produce More iPhone 6 Plus Units Due to Strong Demand in China

Posted by on 22 October 2014 | 9:18 am

Apple CEO Tim Cook Meets with Top Chinese Official After iCloud Login Harvesting Claims

Apple CEO Tim Cook met with a top Chinese government official in Beijing Wednesday to discuss the security of user data, reports Reuters. The meeting comes after web censorship blog Great Fire claimed earlier this week that hackers worked with Chinese authorities to harvest Apple ID information from Chinese users visiting iCloud.com. Yesterday, Apple issued a statement acknowledging the attacks on its servers and launched a new browser security guide on its website. The guide stressed the importance of digital certificates, asking users to check for any certificate warnings in their browser and ensure that they are connected to iCloud.com versus a malicious third-party website that resembles the service's homepage. China has become an increasingly important market for Apple, as the company now has eleven retail stores in the country and sells the iPhone on all three major wireless carriers. Apple also launched the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in China last Friday following a week of successful pre-orders. Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts. Recent Mac and iOS Blog Stories • FXNOW iOS App, Apple TV Gain Support for 'Simpsons World', All 552 Episodes of The Simpsons Available • Staples Begins Accepting iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 Pre-Orders • The Pokemon Company Releases Second Official Pokemon Game for iOS • Buyer's Guide Deals: Discounts on the Original iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 • T-Mobile to Offer $0 Down iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 Pre-Orders Tomorrow • Apple Opening Second Retail Store in Turkey This Saturday, October 25 • Apple Looking to Produce More iPhone 6 Plus Units Due to Strong Demand in China • iOS 8.1: 'Text Message Forwarding' Activation Requires iMessage Email Address

Posted by on 22 October 2014 | 6:12 am

First iPad Air 2 Reviews: 'Ridiculously Fast', 'Vibrant Display', Thinner Profile Comes at the Cost of Battery Life

Following Apple's October 16 event that saw the debut of the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3, Apple provided multiple publications with review units. The embargo has now lifted on review posts, so we've gathered some of the relevant excerpts from each site in order to highlight general release reactions to the new tablet. Apple's iPad Air 2 is an entire millimeter thinner than the original iPad Air, and Apple has billed it as the thinnest tablet in the world. It offers a new A8X processor, Touch ID fingerprint support, an anti-reflective screen coating, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and an improved 8-megapixel rear camera. Walt Mossberg, Re/code:So when Apple brought out new iPads last week, and I had a chance to test them over the past four days, you might think I'd be pretty excited about them -- but I'm not. They are, in most respects, the best iPads ever made. But for average users, they represent only a modest evolutionary improvement over last year's models, not the kind of big change that the first iPad Air or the Retina display iPad mini did last year. [...] The Air 2 didn't allow me to hold or carry the tablet longer and more comfortably than the Air. Its weight of 0.96 pounds isn't discernibly lighter than the Air's weight of one pound. And its thickness of 0.24 inches is a barely noticeable reduction from the Air's 0.29 inches.Nilay Patel, The Verge:The Air 2 has a vibrant, sharp display that looks almost painted on. Apple says the new antireflective coating on the Air 2 reduces glare by 56 percent, but I didn't really notice it making a huge difference; you definitely can't use it in bright sunlight. [...] Inside the iPad Air 2 lies Apple's new A8X chip, which is a variant of the A8 found in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus with additional graphics capabilities. It's ridiculously fast -- noticeably faster to load web pages and launch apps than my iPad Air, and it has so much graphics headroom that I'm eager to see how game developers take advantage of it. Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch:The 6.1 mm chassis just makes all the difference when it comes to the Air feeling like something that you could comfortably hold for long periods of time, and even for all-day computing, should you need it (and it's easy to imagine an event coordinator, for instance, needing exactly that). Our review unit came in Apple's gold finish, and let me just say that on the iPad, that means there's a lot of gold going on. Apple's take on this particular metal color is better than most, but this definitely isn't my favourite finish. The Air 2 in either space grey or silver still looks fantastic however, and the gold is definitely going to stand out in a crowd, especially if you're also using the iPad as a camera.Brad Molen, Engadget:A thinner profile comes at the expense of battery size. The new Air's is 5.1Whr smaller than the old one, but Apple still promises that you'll get the same 10-hour battery life because the A8X is more power-efficient. Real-life use shows that the original Air still rules the roost; after a day of heavy use, I typically went to bed with around 20 percent left in the tank. If you're only using it moderately -- say, for casual content creation or consumption -- you should get a little over two days. In our video test, in which an HD movie plays through the life of the battery, the Air 2 squeezed out 11 hours and 15 minutes, significantly lower than last year's Air and about an hour short of the Samsung Tab S. [...] The Air 2 also doesn't have a mute switch, which I didn't think would be a huge loss until I actually found myself trying to use it and becoming frustrated more frequently than I expected. Your new options are to press and hold the volume down button or go into the Control Center and press the mute key; if you used the switch to lock screen orientation, you'll need to do that in the Control Center as well. A microphone now sits where the mute switch once was; there's another one right next to the camera.Joanna Stern, The Wall Street Journal:That anti-reflective screen also makes a great, though admittedly ginormous, viewfinder for snapping nature shots with the revamped 8-megapixel camera. It takes much crisper shots than before, and in many cases, ones as good as those I can take with my iPhone 6. But I won't bring my iPad to some mountain peak, as some Apple promo shots suggest. Besides, when I set the iPad Air 2 down for a second on a bench, it slid off and hit concrete, shattering the screen. Sure, I'm to blame, but if Apple wants me to climb every mountain armed with nothing but an iPad, ruggedness should be as important as anti-reflectivity.Harry McCracken, Fast Company:The weirdest fact about the iPad Air 2 is that Apple isn't publicizing (or even acknowledging) one of its best new features. The tablet now has 2GB of RAM, up from the rather cramped 1GB allotment in the original iPad Air. (Some competitors, like the Galaxy Tab 10.1, have even more.) Doubling the RAM means that the iPad can keep more apps and browser tabs in memory without having to reload anything. That results in a speed boost which which is very apparent as you hop between apps and load new web pages.Lance Ulanoff, MashableTo get an anecdotal sense of the performance, I installed a pair of console-level games: Asphalt 8 Airborne and Modern Combat 5: Blackout. Each of these games is notable for rich imagery and physics including smoke, water, rain, and reflections. The games looked and worked great on the original iPad Air and worked just as well — if not better — on the iPad Air 2. However, Apple isn’t just blowing smoke when it says the A8X is more powerful. I ran Geekbench 3 on both Airs and found that that Apple’s A8X has 3 cores (the A7 had 2) and that the multicore score for the iPad Air 2 is nearly double that of the original Air. The singlecore score for the iPad Air 2 is only slightly better than that of the iPad Air.Other Reviews: Farhad Manjoo, The New York Times Samuel Gibbs, The Guardian David Pogue, Yahoo Tech Chris Davies, Slashgear Matt Warman, The Telegraph The iPad Air 2 is currently available for pre-order from Apple's online store, with prices starting at $499. Apple has not yet revealed when the new tablets will be available in stores, but the first pre-orders will be arriving to customers this week. Recent Mac and iOS Blog Stories • FXNOW iOS App, Apple TV Gain Support for 'Simpsons World', All 552 Episodes of The Simpsons Available • Staples Begins Accepting iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 Pre-Orders • The Pokemon Company Releases Second Official Pokemon Game for iOS • Buyer's Guide Deals: Discounts on the Original iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 • T-Mobile to Offer $0 Down iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 Pre-Orders Tomorrow • Apple Opening Second Retail Store in Turkey This Saturday, October 25 • Apple Looking to Produce More iPhone 6 Plus Units Due to Strong Demand in China • iOS 8.1: 'Text Message Forwarding' Activation Requires iMessage Email Address

Posted by on 21 October 2014 | 8:54 pm

Apple and GT Advanced Reach Deal to End Partnership, GT to Sell Furnaces to Pay Debt

GT Advanced and Apple have reached a deal that will see the two companies dissolving their partnership, according to documents submitted to the court earlier today, reports The Wall Street Journal. According to GT Advanced attorney Luc Despins, the agreement between the two companies marks an "amicable parting of the ways." Under the terms of the deal, GT Advanced will sell off more than 2,000 sapphire furnaces, with some of the proceeds going to Apple as repayment for the $440 million loan the company gave GT to purchase the sapphire equipment. Mr. Despins said the proposed settlement allows GT Advanced to try to sell the furnaces at the Mesa, Ariz. sapphire-manufacturing facility, and give the money to Apple, which financed the equipment. GT Advanced would surrender its claims against Apple, under the deal, and agree not to disparage the technology giant, Mr. Despins said.There was some speculation that GT Advanced was aiming to force Apple into taking over the sapphire operation, but it appears that Apple is not interested as both parties seem to want out of the deal. With GT planning to sell off all of the furnaces, it is unclear whether Apple will be able to source enough sapphire from other suppliers in order to incorporate sapphire into the iPhone display in the future. Apple and GT Advanced have also agreed to file a revised explanation for the company's bankruptcy filing, which will be provided to the court at a November 25 hearing, but the original court papers remain sealed. If approved, the settlement between GT Advanced and Apple will see original court papers stricken from the court record, keeping the details of what went wrong between the two companies quiet. Rumors have suggested that the deal between GT Advanced and Apple began falling apart early on, with GT Advanced missing technical milestones as early as February. A failure to produce high-quality sapphire led Apple to withhold a final $139 million loan payment, which may have been the reason behind GT Advanced's Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing in early October. GT Advanced will begin winding down operations at its sapphire plant in the near future, eliminating the jobs of more than 727 employees in the coming weeks. GT Advanced plans to prepare existing sapphire boules for sale, clean and sell furnaces, and then close the plant for good by December 31. Recent Mac and iOS Blog Stories • Staples Begins Accepting iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 Pre-Orders • The Pokemon Company Releases Second Official Pokemon Game for iOS • Buyer's Guide Deals: Discounts on the Original iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 • T-Mobile to Offer $0 Down iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 Pre-Orders Tomorrow • Apple Opening Second Retail Store in Turkey This Saturday, October 25 • Apple Looking to Produce More iPhone 6 Plus Units Due to Strong Demand in China • iOS 8.1: 'Text Message Forwarding' Activation Requires iMessage Email Address • Royals and Giants Stadiums to Accept Apple Pay for Concessions During World Series

Posted by on 21 October 2014 | 6:07 pm

iPad Air 2 Up to 55% Faster Than iPhone 6, Up to 68% Faster Than iPad Air

A short time ago, we highlighted a new benchmark appearing to show an iPad Air 2 device carrying an A8X chip with a triple-core 1.5 GHz processor and 2 GB of RAM. While we mentioned that the enhanced specs have led to huge performance gains compared to the A8 chip found in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Primate Labs has now published a nice pair of charts showing just how dramatic this improvement really is, making the iPad Air 2 far and away the fastest iOS device ever. The most striking improvement comes in the multi-score benchmarks, where the A8X with its three cores of processing power blows away the dual-core A8 found in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. As a result, the iPad Air 2 registers over 55 percent faster than the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in the multi-core benchmark. Comparing iPad to iPad, the A8X in the iPad Air 2 measures 68 percent faster than the A7 in last year's iPad Air according to the multi-core benchmark. The iPad Air 2 also sets new high scores in the single-core benchmarks thanks to the 1.5 GHz cores in the A8X, with much of the nearly 13 percent gain over the A8 coming from the 100 MHz speed improvement compared the 1.4 GHz cores found in the iPhone and 6 Plus. The iPad Air 2 of course also compares favorably to the original iPad Air, with single core scores up 23 percent. Recent Mac and iOS Blog Stories • The Pokemon Company Releases Second Official Pokemon Game for iOS • Buyer's Guide Deals: Discounts on the Original iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 • T-Mobile to Offer $0 Down iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 Pre-Orders Tomorrow • Apple Opening Second Retail Store in Turkey This Saturday, October 25 • Apple Looking to Produce More iPhone 6 Plus Units Due to Strong Demand in China • iOS 8.1: 'Text Message Forwarding' Activation Requires iMessage Email Address • Royals and Giants Stadiums to Accept Apple Pay for Concessions During World Series • Apple Sells Record-Breaking 5.5 Million Macs in Q4 2014

Posted by on 21 October 2014 | 3:50 pm