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Apple News: New Meaning to the Word Touchscreen

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If the latest rumors are true, Apple is bulking up the vibration unit in the next iPhone to allow for more specific kinds of vibrations and in a greater variety of areas. Apple Insider is reporting that a new, more expensive motor could be part of the iPhone 6 and it will allow for "haptic feedback" which, depending on where the user touches the screen, can give physical feedback instead of just an audible click.



Awesome Video Shows Indestructible Sapphire Crystal Front Panel of iPhone 6

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It's a known fact that Apple has invested heavily in sapphire crystal and plans to increasingly use it in their products. This material is virtually impossible to scratch. And for months there have been rumors that the front panel of the iPhone 6 will be made of sapphire crystal or will have a sapphire crystal laminate. And now Sonny Dickson, who in the past has been the first to score leaked parts for forthcoming iPhones and iPads, has allegedly gotten his hands on iPhone 6 front panels straight off the assembly line. Video blogger Marques Brownlee got a front panel from Dickson and has uploaded a video to YouTube showing just how indestructible sapphire crystal can be. He tries hard to scratch it with keys and a knife point. He stabs the panel. He puts his shoe on it and tries to break it. As the embedded video below shows, nothing he can do has the slightest effect. No marks whatsoever, other than fingerprints.



Apple News: Solar-Powered Data Center Expansion

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When it rains, it pours. And when the sun shines, particularly in North Carolina, it powers Apple's data centers. As Apple increasingly relies on such data centers for iCloud, Siri, and more, they are also increasingly relying on the sun to power those data centers. And now Apple has struck a deal with Claremont City Council in North Carolina to setup a 100-acre solar farm, and spend up to $55 million to build it. This is in addition to the other solar powered Apple data centers in Maiden, NC.



Rumor: Chinese Website Reports Greater Battery Capacity in Forthcoming iPhones

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Blogs are reporting the news published by a Chinese technology website that the forthcoming iPhone 6 with a 4.7-inch display will have a battery capacity between 1,800 and 1,900 mAh, compared to 1,570 for the current iPhone 5s. The larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6 is expected to have a 2,500 mAh battery. Does this mean that the new phones will have a much longer battery life? Not necessarily. A larger capacity battery will be needed to power the larger screen of the forthcoming phones.



Apple News: Robots to Build iPhones

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The first Apple devices were handmade by Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, and a few others in Jobs' family garage. They've come a long way since then. While most Apple devices are now made in China, via subcontractors like Foxconn, there are still a few devices made in America. The new version of the $3,000-plus Mac Pro is made in the U.S., where the higher price can offset any costs due to Americans demanding a living wage and not polluting the environment. Foxconn has had their own problems with worker suicides leading to the installation of netting around buildings. Yet workers still flock to Foxconn factories because the working conditions are often better than the alternatives.



Apple News: Fashionable HR Moves

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Apple has made some interesting personnel moves lately, starting with Angela Ahrendts, previously CEO of Burberry. To leave the top job at a prestigious fashion firm for a non-CEO job might be puzzling, but it demonstrates Apple's own prestige. At Apple, Ahrendts has a chance to make an impact on the consumer electronics scene at one of the most well respected firms. And given the trend toward wearables, it could be nice to combine her fashion expertise with Apple's technology savvy.



Apple Climbs Back Up on Barron's List

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After taking a plunge to number three last year on Barron's 'World's Most Respected Companies' list, Apple is now back at number one; this comeback is said to coincide with a revival in its shares, which Barron reported has gained more than 60 percent since the spring of 2013.



Apple News: Save the Date(s)?

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Every day brings us closer to the iPhone 6, and all signs point to September for the announcement and availability. In fact the specific dates may be narrowing, according to a Chinese source, as reported by Apple Insider. September 19 or 25 are being discussed as potential dates customers could get their hands on the 4.7" device. A 5.5" version is expected to be announced but possibly later this year. Now we are learning that the larger unit may be dubbed the iPhone Air. This is counterintuitive, as the MacBook Air represents the lighter, smaller MacBook compared to the Pro, but the iPad mini vs iPad Air may set a new precedent, with Air representing the handheld device with the largest screen. Perhaps the better naming convention would be to make the 4.7" model the iPhone Air and the 5.5" version the iPhone Pro while keeping the current iPhone 5s as the basic iPhone.



New Video Shows Alleged Front Panel of iPhone 6, Compares it to iPhone 5s

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A new video posted by the Chinese website ifanr gives perhaps the clearest look so far at how the size of the forthcoming iPhone 6 with a 4.7-inch display compares to the 4-inch display of the iPhone 5s. The video claims to show an actual front panel of the iPhone 6, and puts it beside a front panel of an iPhone 5s. It also shows how the new phone will fit in one's hand compared to the 5s. See the embedded video below.



Apple News: Voice the Key to an iWatch?

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A recent interview by Apple's CEO Tim Cook suggests that voice may be more important to an iWatch than previously thought. I've used a number of smartwatches, from Pebble, Martian Watches and others. While the Pebble offers the best battery life, the Martian Watch offers the most promise precisely because of its Siri button. In addition to acting as a Bluetooth Speakerphone, there is a button that can be pressed to activate Siri. This is similar to CarPlay, where an audio-only interface is used to access Siri's functions, so there's no touchscreen to distract the driver.



Apple News: iOS 7.1.2 released

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With all of the hubbub around iOS 8, it's worth remembering that iOS 7 is still around and still being maintained by Apple. In fact, this week Apple rolled out an update, iOS 7.1.2, which offers bug fixes and security updates. Many of the fixes are related to barcode scanning and iBeacon. The 23.1 Megabyte update can be installed wirelessly, which helps contribute to Apple's record-setting adoption rates. I've been using Android devices a lot lately, and it's frustrating how out of date they get. Industry tracker Chitika Research reports that iOS 7 adoption rates are around 90 percent and that was three weeks ago.



Apple News: Back to School for Less

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As much as my kids and college professor wife would like to forget, it's almost Back-to-School time, and Apple is making it a little easier with their Back-to-School promotion. College-bound students (and their parents) as well as teachers can save year round with Educational pricing, but now Apple sweetens the pot. The annual promotion covers most Macs, iPads, and since 2013, iPhones.



Apple News: Glass or Sapphire to Grace Back of the iPhone 6?

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There is no shortage of rumors, mockups, spy shots, and speculation as we head into the last couple of months before the iPhone 6 is announced. Most of the alleged photos of the device show a metal back, but now rumors from France and Japan, via Apple Insider, suggest the metal strips at the top and bottom are only placeholders. That area will be covered in glass, similar to the current iPhone 5s, when the iPhone 6 ships.



You Can Now Upgrade iPod Storage for Less

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In a long overdue move, Apple dropped the prices on the iPod touch, particularly for the higher storage capacity versions. Now users can get the current generation of the iPod touch in a 16GB version for $199, and for just $50 more they can upgrade to 32GB and for $100 more to 64GB. That entry level 16GB model now includes a decent camera and is available in many colors. The older model can be snagged for $149 at Apple's clearance/refurbished store.



MacTech Promises to Be a Magical Developers Conference

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Perhaps you didn't attend Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, either by choice or you didn't win Apple's lottery to earn the privilege of paying for WWDC. Or maybe you were one of the lucky ones to make it to Apple's event. Either way, you will be interested in attending the independent MacTech Conference in Los Angeles, the first week in November.



Launch of iPhone 6 to Bolster Earnings of Component Makers

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The investment bank Pacific Crest Securities yesterday predicted in an opinion piece in Barron’s that the iPhone 6 will not only boost Apple Inc., it will also benefit component makers like InvenSense, NXP Semiconductors, and Synaptics.



Apple News: Professional Athletes Test Driving the iWatch?

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Armchair athletes may be fine with products from FitBit, Jawbone, and the like, but Apple appears to be going for top shelf athletes. This fall's announcement of an Apple iWatch is an all-but-foregone conclusion, but the difference may be that Apple is seeking the feedback from star athletes like Kobe Bryant. The Beats acquisition demonstrates Apple's attention to celebrity endorsements. While rappers and musicians care deeply about sound quality, professional athletes care deeply about their health!



Big Touch ID Improvements Coming this Fall?

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Apple's Touch ID may be getting more than just software enhancements this fall. The fingerprint sensor system is slated to expand beyond unlocking the iPhone 5s and making purchases in the App Store and iTunes. Apple announced at their WWDC event that Touch ID would be accessible to app developers for remembering passwords for authentication. Imagine paying via PayPal with your fingerprint!



Apple News: Watching for an iWatch

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All signs point to an Apple iWatch being released around October. Apple's boosting their Sapphire manufacturing, which could make iPhone screens more durable, but more importantly, it could make an iWatch that handles the bumps and grinds common to watches. Indeed Sapphire is commonly used already for traditional watch screens, and unlike iPhones, most people don't put their watch in a protective case!  



Apple Quietly Makes Some Macs More Affordable

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Apple didn't really make any hardware news during their Worldwide Developers Conference. Two weeks later they haven't released entirely new machines, but they have made some pricing moves. The iMac is now even more affordable, with the lower cost of entry starting at $1099 (and $50 less for Education customers.) Apple TV and the venerable Mac mini have also seen their price drop, overseas at least. Power users might scoff at the specs on these entry level systems, but for surfing the web, checking email, using iTunes, Netflix, etc., they could be ideal.



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