Apple Hires Former NV Energy VP to Serve as Renewable Energy Manager [Mac Blog]

April 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

bobbyhollisApple hired former NV Energy VP Bobby Hollis as its Senior Renewable Energy Manager earlier this month, according to Hollis’s LinkedIn page. Hollis spent five years at electric company NV Energy in Nevada, where he served as the Vice President of Renewable Energy and Origination.

According to Mike Taylor, Director of Research at the Solar Electric Power Association, Hollis also served on the association’s board before leaving NV Energy and was recently named one of Las Vegas’s 40 Under Forty business leaders.

“A VP at a large utility is a pretty big position. His capabilities and experience is greater than the title at apple would belie. He was on our association’s board before leaving NVE.”

Hollis’s duties at NV Energy included leading renewable energy efforts and creating energy supply contracts the company. It’s possible he worked on contracts with Apple while still serving as VP of NV Energy, as Apple and the electric company have partnered up to build a solar panel farm next to Apple’s Reno data center. The solar array, which will generate approximately 18–20 megawatts of power, is expected to be completed sometime next year.

Renewable energy is a key part of Apple’s efforts to reduce its environmental impact. All of the company’s data centers run on 100% renewable energy, as do 75% of its corporate facilities. Greenpeace featured Apple as a “Green Energy Innovator” back in early April as a result of its renewable energy policies.


Apple recently overhauled its Environmental Responsibility website and introduced a new “Better” video explaining its commitment to environmentally friendly values. The company also hired former EPA chief Lisa Jackson as its vice president of environmental initiatives back in May of 2013.



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U.K. iTunes Radio Competitor Bloom.fm Shutting Down After Being Blocked From iAd [iOS Blog]

April 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

London-based streaming music service Bloom.fm is shutting down following the withdrawal of its main investment partner, TNT, a Russian television channel. TNT withdrew its funding following an organizational change, said VentureBeat.

In a blog post, the Bloom.fm team said the withdrawal of funding was a surprise and that the company has no time to find new investment.

Bloom Game Over

We’ll keep this short because we’re pretty shell-shocked.

It’s game over for Bloom.fm.

Our investor, who’s been along for the ride since day one, has unexpectedly pulled our funding.

It’s come so out of the blue that we don’t have time to find new investment. So, with enormous regret, we have to shut up shop.

This is a poetically crappy turn of events as our young business was showing real promise. Our apps and web player are looking super-nice and we had 1,158,914 registered users in a little over a year. Yep.

A massive thanks to everyone that helped us get this far. We’re absolutely gutted. But it’s been a real pleasure.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Bloom.fm had been blocked from using Apple’s iAd advertising service to gain new users because it competed too closely with Apple’s own iTunes Radio service, which is preparing to launch in the United Kingdom.

It’s unclear whether the iAd blocking had anything to do with the removal of funding, but it was likely a blow to the company regardless.



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Significant Discounts on 2013 MacBook Airs Following Refresh [Mac Blog]

April 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

With the release of updated 11 and 13-inch MacBook Air models, multiple retailers have begun dropping the price on older versions of the MacBook Air. Because the only upgrade to the 2014 MacBook Air is a slightly improved processor, the lower prices on 2013 MacBook Air models are appealing to consumers looking for a deal.

macbook_air_mavericks_roundup_header
We’ve gathered up some of the best price cuts ($200 off) on Apple’s 2013 MacBook Air lineup, which can be seen below. Note that the $200 off represents the discount from the 2013 prices. Apple themselves, discounted the new 2014 MacBook Airs by $100. So this gives you a $100 savings for a new 2013 MacBook Air which performs nearly on par with the new 2014 models.

11-inch 1.3GHz i5 MacBook Air, 4GB RAM & 128 GB flash storage (MD711LL/A):

$799, B&H Photo
$799, Best Buy
$844, MacMall

11-inch 1.3GHz i5 MacBook Air, 4GB RAM & 256 GB flash storage (MD712LL/A):

$999, B&H Photo
$999, Best Buy
$1,044, MacMall

13-inch 1.3GHz i5 MacBook Air, 4GB RAM & 128 GB flash storage (MD760LL/A):

$899, B&H Photo
$899, Best Buy

13-inch 1.3GHz i5 MacBook Air, 4GB RAM & 256 GB flash storage (MD761LL/A):

$1,099, B&H Photo
$1,099, Best Buy
$1,144, MacMall

Some of the lowest prices on Apple’s older products come from Apple itself – in the online refurbished store. Currently, the store lists an entry-level 2013 11-inch MacBook Air for $719, and an entry-level 2013 13-inch MacBook Air for $799, but stock is always limited and these deals often go quickly.

Apple has been selling a 2012 11-inch MacBook Air for as low as $599, but all models are currently sold out. The best way to get a deal from the refurbished store is to check stock on a regular basis.

For those looking for one of the newly updated MacBook Air models, those start at $899 for the 11-inch version and $999 for the 13-inch version, with stock available directly from the Apple Online Store. Sales tax will vary depending on which vendor you order from. B&H Photo, for example only charges sales tax in New York.

MacRumors is affiliate partners with some of these vendors



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Sapphire Production Underway in Arizona, Small Quantities Shipped to Apple Partners

April 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

Apple’s sapphire crystal partner GT Advanced has begun sapphire production and has even shipped small quantities of the material to an Apple partner in China responsible for making sapphire covers, according to a report from analysts at UBS Research.

Sapphire production is said to have begun last month, in March, but it appears the facility is not yet running at full capacity. GT Advanced reportedly shipped 2,200kg of sapphire, the amount produced by approximately 100 furnaces.

The company is said to be on schedule to install another 400 to 500 furnaces in the first quarter of 2014 and an additional 900 to 1,000 in the second quarter, significantly ramping up production towards the end of the year ahead of the release of both the iPhone 6 and the iWatch.

gt_advanced_technologies_banner

We estimate GT’s shipment to China was only about $1M worth of sapphire last month. We believe this Apple partner needs to be receiving sapphire totalling about $50M+ per month to confirm that the GT Arizona fab is running at close to full utilization.

GT Advanced’s sapphire production plant, which is financed by Apple, uses large capacity furnaces that emphasize lower cost, higher volume sapphire manufacturing. While Apple currently sources sapphire from a number of other suppliers for use in iPhone elements like the protective cover over the cameras and the home button of the iPhone 5s, GT Advanced’s operation will produce much higher quantities of the material, leading many to believe Apple has big plans for sapphire.

Thus far, rumors have suggested that Apple may be planning to use sapphire crystal displays in its upcoming iPhone 6, due to the superior durability and scratch resistance of the material. A recent report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggested supplies could be limited, however, resulting in only some models of the iPhone 6 produced using sapphire.

Sapphire may be a key component of Apple’s upcoming smart watch, as it could prevent the device from becoming scratched even with heavy use. Many high end luxury watches also use sapphire crystal displays.

Reports have indicated that GT Advanced has purchased enough sapphire furnace and chamber systems to produce between 100 and 200 million sapphire displays, enough for its entire line of devices should it continue to meet its production timeline.



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iPhone 6 Shown in Another High-Quality Physical Mockup [iOS Blog]

April 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

As design drawings and renderings of two larger iPhone 6 models have begun giving way to physical mockups based on those designs, a new photo of a high-quality physical mockup has been shared by Italian site Macitynet [Google Translate].

iphone_6_physical_mockup_macitynet
Few new details can be determined from the photo, but the relocated power button on the side of the device can be seen, and it is clearly a high-quality mockup given differing materials and colors used for various features such as the rear camera and flash. The size of the device is not given, but just based on the look in the hand it appears to be the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 rather than the even larger 5.5-5.7 inch version depicted in the less refined physical mockup from earlier today.

The latest mockup is reportedly the work of a case manufacturer, and Macitynet understands that mockups have been refined over a period of months. According to the source, the version shown in the photo is considered to be “final” for the purposes of ensuring case and accessory compatibility with the expected design of the iPhone 6.

In practice, this model would be made molds of the latest cases and tested the prototypes of the enclosures to verify their compatibility with the real iPhone 6. It is not uncommon that during the process of engineering accessories manufacturers are forced to progressively refine their plans, as they come, of course, under the table, information on the specifications of the phones. In practical terms, it was explained, in recent months there have been various “versions” experienced by manufacturers of accessories (and these were modeled and rendered drawings of the iPhone 6), but there is now confidence that this one located final.

The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 is reportedly scheduled to launch around the usual September timeframe, while the larger 5.5-inch is rumored to be arriving several months later.



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Updated MacBook Airs with Improved Haswell Processors See Minor Speed Boosts

April 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

Following the introduction of refreshed MacBook Airs yesterday, Geekbench 3 benchmarking scores have begun appearing, suggesting, as expected, just minor speed improvements for the new notebooks.

mbageekbench
Apple only updated the low-end processor option for the MacBook Air and that is seeing 32-bit single-core scores around 2532 and multi-core scores around 4781. Compared to the 2013 MacBook Air the new processor brings just a slight boost in processing power. The 11-inch 2013 MacBook Air saw average scores of 2379/4480, while the 13-inch version saw scores of 2369/4468.

macbook_air_2013_benchmarksSingle and multi-core Geekbench scores for the low-end 2013 MacBook Airs
Along with minor speed improvements, the new 1.4Ghz Core i5–4260U processor has also increased the battery life of some tasks, namely video playback, which has gained an extra hour on the 11-inch model and an extra two hours on the 13-inch model.

Most notably, Apple’s update brought lower prices for the MacBook Air, dropping its price tag by $100 across the board in the United States and many other countries. MacBook Air prices now start at $899 instead of $999, and there are also several more affordable 2013 and 2012 options available in Apple’s online refurbished store.

Though this update has not been a significant change for the MacBook Air, Apple is said to be working on a significantly improved version of the notebook with a 12-inch Retina display, a slimmer body with a fanless design, and a buttonless trackpad. This redesigned MacBook Air may launch towards the end of the year.



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Google Launches New iOS Apps for Google Docs and Sheets [iOS Blog]

April 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

Google today debuted two new standalone iOS apps for documents and spreadsheets. Google Docs and Google Sheets are designed to allow users to create and access documents and spreadsheets on their mobile devices.

Before the introduction of Google Docs and Google Sheets, documents were only accessible via Google Drive or the web. Google is also planning to release a Google Slides app in the near future, further growing its line of productivity apps on the iPad and the iPhone.

googledocs
The apps are designed with offline support built in, so viewing, editing, and creating files can be done without an Internet connection. Google Docs supports opening and editing documents that have been previously worked on via another device and documents can be shared and edited by multiple users at the same time.

With Google Docs you can:

– Create new documents or open and edit any that you started on the web or another device.
– Share documents and work together with others in the same document at the same time
– Get stuff done anytime–even without an internet connection
– Add and respond to comments
– Never worry about losing your work–everything is automatically saved as you type

Google Sheets functions similarly, allowing multiple users to work on documents in the app or on the web. The app supports formatting of cells, sorting data, and more.

With Google Sheets you can:

– Create new spreadsheets or open and edit any that you started on the web or another device.
– Share spreadsheets and work together with others in the same spreadsheet at the same time
– Get stuff done anytime–even without an internet connection
– Format cells, enter/sort data, perform various sheet operations, and more
– Never worry about losing your work–everything is automatically saved as you type

Both of Google’s new apps can be downloaded from the App Store at no cost.

Google Docs [Direct Link]
Google Sheets [Direct Link]



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