Apple Hires Longtime Technology Journalist Anand Lal Shimpi

August 31, 2014 § Leave a comment

After announcing his departure from AnandTech, veteran technology journalist Anand Lal Shimpi will join Apple in an undisclosed role, reports Re/code. A representative for Apple confirmed that Shimpi would be joining the company, but also declined to provide any further details.

anand_shimpi Image credit: Anandtech
Shimpi launched AnandTech in 1997 and established the website’s reputation around in-depth analysis and reviews on a number of topics from the world of technology, including posts on Apple’s line of desktops, notebooks, iPhones, iPads, iPods, and accessories.

In his farewell post on AnandTech published yesterday, Shimpi stated that he “won’t stay idle forever” and added that there are “a bunch of challenges out there.”



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Apple Partnering With American Express on iPhone Mobile Payments Initiative

August 31, 2014 § Leave a comment

Apple’s rumored mobile payments initiative appears to be coming closer to launch, with Re/code reporting the company has reached a deal to partner with American Express.

Apple has reached an agreement with American Express to work together on its new iPhone payments system, according to sources familiar with the talks. American Express is one of several partners Apple will need to sign up before it can launch its new payments plan, which sources say it plans to announce at its September 9 product event.

Apple was previously reported to have been in negotiations with Visa over the effort, which is said to leverage the upcoming iPhone 6. Just days ago, a logic board leak revealed the near field communications (NFC) chip destined for the iPhone 6 and which will presumably play an important role in enabling the mobile payments functionality.

easypay_conceptEasyPay mobile payments concept by Ricardo Del Toro
With Apple’s extensive database of credit card numbers linked to iTunes Store accounts and new security technology such as Touch ID built into the iPhone, the company is strongly positioned to leverage those assets for widespread adoption of mobile payments. The effort naturally requires partnerships with credit card processors and retailers, but the pieces do appear to be falling into place just ahead of next week’s media event.



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Apple Reportedly Weighing $400 Price Range for Upcoming Wearable Device

August 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

iwatch_concept_ifoyucouldseeIn the latest of a string a reports regarding Apple’s plans for its upcoming wearable device, Re/code reports company executives have “discussed” a rough price of $400 for the device. That is merely a range, however, with cheaper models perhaps also in the works.

Apple executives have discussed charging around $400 for the company’s new wearable device.

Pricing has yet to be finalized for the forthcoming product, which is expected to begin shipping next year. Sources say consumers should expect a range of prices for different models including lower priced versions.

The report indicates that it is unclear whether Apple will have the pricing issue settled in time for its September 9 media event where it will reportedly show off the device, popularly referred to as the iWatch. If not, the company would remain silent on pricing for the time being and announce it a later date closer to launch, which may not occur until early next year.

Rumors regarding the wearable device have been inconsistent over time, making it unclear where on the spectrum of health and fitness band to true smart watch it will fall. Apple may, however, have altered its announcement schedule in order to better position the device as an iPhone accessory rather than as a standalone product.

(Image: iWatch concept from ifyoucouldseethefuture.com)



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4.7-Inch iPhone 6 Built From Parts Supports Theory of 1334 x 750 Display

August 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

Yesterday, we shared a video and some photos from Feld & Volk [Instagram page] apparently showing a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 built from parts actually booting to the “Connect to iTunes” recovery mode screen.

A Tweet today from developer Steven Troughton-Smith points out that the graphics shown on the display during this booting process “*seem* to confirm” John Gruber’s arguments in favor of the device being equipped with a 1334 x 750 display at the same 326 pixels per inch density of previous Retina displays. More specifically, the evidence points toward an approximately 667 x 375 point display, which would presumably arrive in the form of a 2x Retina display at 1334 x 750 as Gruber suggests.

Sparked by Troughton-Smith’s observation, we have independently examined photos of the booting device provided to us by Feld & Volk and come to the same conclusion.

iPhone 6 (left) and iPhone 5s (right) shown booting to recovery mode. Letterboxing on iPhone 6 visible below Lightning cable.
The method relies on the fact that the “Connect to iTunes” image does not completely fill the display on the iPhone 6, with the Lightning cable ending above the bottom edge of the screen whereas on current iPhones it extends all the way to the edge. Assuming this “letterboxing” is due to the image not being optimized for the larger iPhone 6 display, it would correspond to the image filling an area equivalent to a 4-inch screen centered on the device’s 4.7-inch display.

This would account for the margin of black seen between the cable and the bottom of the display, and measuring the ratio of the space (plus a presumed equal one at the top) to the overall display size should yield an approximation of how much larger the viewable area is in points on the iPhone 6.

4.7-inch iPhone 6 display showing apparent letterboxed areas (red) with image optimized for 4-inch display (blue)
(Click for larger)

By our calculations, the border areas not covered by the image together suggest that the iPhone 6 display carries approximately 17.5% more points in the vertical dimension than a current 4-inch display. This would move the current 568-point height of the iPhone 6 (1136 pixels at 2x Retina) to 667 points (1334 pixels assuming 2x Retina) on the iPhone 6.

Assuming the aspect ratio of the screen remains the same as in the iPhone 5s, which by all indications it does, this would mean a 667 x 375 point (1334 x 750 pixels Retina) display for the iPhone 6. Performing the calculation in the horizontal dimension is more difficult due to nature of the recovery mode image, with no portion of the visible graphics extending to the side edge of the overall image to determine how much letterboxing space is on the sides.

This analysis obviously addresses only the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 that Feld & Volk has acquired parts for. Gruber suggests the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 will likely contain a 2208 x 1242 display at a sharper 3x factor than the current 2x Retina. As pointed out by developer James Thomson and 9to5Mac, the current iOS 8 beta is indeed showing some behavior indicating a preference for displaying 3x images when available.



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AT&T Offers $100 Bill Credit for New Next Line Activations [iOS Blog]

August 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

As of today, both new customers and existing AT&T subscribers who activate a new line with a smartphone using AT&T’s Next upgrade program will get a $100 bill credit.

attnextupgrade

Whether you already have an AT&T account, or you’re choosing AT&T for the first time, it’s easy to receive a $100 bill credit:

Purchase a new smartphone on AT&T Next.
Activate a new qualified wireless line of service on your new smartphone.
Remain active and in good standing.
Receive your $100 bill credit within 3 bill cycles

AT&T’s Next upgrade program allows customers to purchase a smartphone or tablet with no money down and no contract, making monthly payments towards the retail cost of the device instead. Next also allows AT&T customers to upgrade their smartphone or tablet every 12 to 18 months after trading in their old devices.

AT&T offers both 20 and 24-month Next installment plans, which equate to a $32.50 or $27.09 monthly payment for an iPhone 5s, in addition to plan fees.

The Next promotion will end on 9/30/14, which means it will likely still be valid when Apple releases the iPhone 6. It is, however, limited to new lines and not available for upgrades.



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iPhone 6 Roundup Update

August 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

Our iPhone 6 roundup has been updated with the latest information, including several details about the 4.7-inch model divined from a completed logic board, and an official September 9 unveiling date.

Check our our full roundup for details.



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4.7-Inch iPhone 6 Logic Board Equipped With Qualcomm’s MDM9625 LTE Modem

August 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

Amid all of the leaks today based on photos and videos from luxury modified iPhone vendor Feld & Volk [Instagram page], one additional point worth mentioning is the device’s LTE modem. While photos posted to reveal the existence of an NFC chip from NXP has seen identifying marks on many of the other components blurred, a portion of the text printed on the LTE modem is visible, confirming the board does indeed contain Qualcomm’s MDM9625M as had been previously rumored.

iphone_6_board_mdm9625MDM9625M boxed in red
The MDM9625 is a Category 4 LTE modem, supporting speeds of up to 150 Mbps, compared to the MDM9615 Category 3 modem at up to 100 Mbps, which is found in the iPhone 5s, 5c, and 5. Some observers had been holding out hope that Apple might use Qualcomm’s even faster MDM9635 Category 6 modem as is reportedly lined up for Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Alpha handset, but with Apple’s history of conservatism in choosing its cellular technology and questions about production ramp-up for the MDM9635 make it unsurprising that Apple has opted for the MDM9625.

iphone_6_board_wtrLikely WTR1625L boxed in red and WFR1620 boxed in blue
Part of the speed benefits of the MDM9625 and new LTE-Advanced technology compared to earlier generations of modems comes from the use of carrier aggregation to combine channels for greater bandwidth. With the MDM9625, this carrier aggregation requires a pair of companion chips, a WTR1625L transceiver chip and a WFR1620 chip. These chips appear to be located on the opposite of the iPhone 6 logic board from the LTE modem itself.

On the whole, the use of the MDM9625 in the iPhone 6 sets the stage for faster cellular data connectivity as networks are built out to support its capabilities, and Apple will likely tout some of these improvements during its media event scheduled for September 9.

(Thanks, chrmjenkins!)



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