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Rumor: Production for new iPad mini, iPad Air, & 5.5" ‘iPhone 6′ pushed to Sept.


Friday, July 25, 2014, 06:02 am PT (09:02 am ET)

A Friday morning rumor out of the Far East suggests that only one of Apple’s next-generation handsets — the 4.7-inch “iPhone 6″ — will be ready for launch at the company’s anticipated September media event, as the larger 5.5-inch model will allegedly not even enter production until that month.

“iPhone 6″ and “iPhone 6c” concepts by Martin Hajek.

This marks the latest in a string of reports that Apple will delay the launch of its rumored jumbo-sized iPhone until after its 4.7-inch sibling bows, though the latest report on Friday offers no explanation for the timing. The report comes from Taiwanese newspaper UDN and was first noted by GforGames.

Further, the paper suggests that initial production capacity will be limited. Capacity is expected to increase by as much as 85 percent in the fourth quarter, perhaps due to the addition of so-called “Foxbots,” robots designed to aid assembly workers.

Apple is widely seen as continuing to split its iPhone lineup into two models for the future, increasing the display sizes to 4.7 and 5.5 inches and adding a new “A8″ processor. The company could also choose to cover the display with sapphire, rather than Corning’s Gorilla Glass, though the likelihood of such a move is hotly debated.

Relatively little is known about the next-generation iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display, though both tablets are also expected to benefit from Apple’s new silicon. In addition, is it widely believed that Apple will bring the Touch ID fingerprint sensor introduced with the iPhone 5s to the tablet lineup.

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Apple spending on manufacturing & parts sees biggest increase since 2007 launch of first iPhone


Friday, July 25, 2014, 06:12 am PT (09:12 am ET)

The data in Apple’s recently released 10-Q filing reveals the company has invested heavily in manufacturing and component purchases as it gears up for a series of highly anticipated major product launches this fall, including a next-generation iPhone and anticipated “iWatch.”

The document filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this week discloses that Apple’s commitments for third-party manufacturing and components grew 22 percent quarter over quarter to $15.4 billion at the end of June. The increase was highlighted on Friday by analyst Katy Huberty of Morgan Stanley, who noted that the off-balance sheet commitments are a sign of “major product ramps” in the coming months.

In addition, Huberty highlighted that Apple has committed to $5.6 billion toward product tooling and manufacturing process equipment, advertising, research and development, and Internet and telecommunications services. That represents an increase of 100 percent sequentially.

Total commitments of $21 billion grew 46 percent year over year, as well as 36 percent from the previous quarter. She noted that’s the highest sequential growth of any June quarter since Apple started selling the first iPhone in 2007.

In Huberty’s eyes, there are likely two reasons for this major increase. First, she believes that Apple is planning to build more iPhones than ever for a record setting launch this fall — information consistent with recent supply chain rumors which have pegged the company building between 70 million and 80 million “iPhone 6″ units before the end of this year.

Huberty also believes the significant spending increases could signal that Apple is planning to enter a new product category that would debut this year. The company is widely expected to launch a so-called “iWatch” this fall.

In addition, AppleInsider noted earlier this week that Apple spent a record $1.6 billion on research and development last quarter, a 36 percent year-over-year increase of $425 million. To date, Apple has spent $4.36 billion on RD thus far in fiscal 2014, and that spending has been accelerating each quarter.

Apple’s major investments come as the company is heavily rumored to launch not only an “iWatch,” but a next-generation iPhone with two screen sizes of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, and a redesigned MacBook Air with Retina display.. Other products expected to be refreshed this fall include the Apple TV and iPad.

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iOS-connected AirDog auto-following drone adds obstacle avoidance


Friday, July 25, 2014, 08:52 am PT (11:52 am ET)

As it nears the completion of a massively successful Kickstarter campaign, drone makers Helico Aerospace announced this week that their forthcoming AirDog drone — which automatically follows users as they do things like wakeboarding or skiing — will gain a new map-based obstacle avoidance system for safer flying.

Users will be able to program maps with three-dimensional “no fly zones” — such as trees, buildings, or infrastructure like ski lifts — that AirDog will intelligently avoid as it flies. The company says that pre-generated maps of popular destinations including wakeboarding cable parks, MX tracks, bike trails, snow parks and ski resorts will be available for download from a cloud locker.

“This will enable the use of AirDog even in places where simple following is either dangerous or not possible,” Helico CEO Edgars Rozentals said.

Rozentals told AppleInsider via email that the company is also working to integrate elevation data from Google Maps. This will allow for more accurate mapping by determining if, for instance, a user is following a downhill ski trail or staying in a level area.

AirDog works by automatically tracking a remote control device, dubbed an “AirLeash,” that users can strap to their wrist or helmet. The drone can then be placed into one of a number of follow modes so that it will do things like maintain a consistent position relevant to the user or continuously circle overhead.

At press time, AirDog had raised some $1.2 million on Kickstarter with 13 hours remaining. The first kits are expected to ship in November for $1,500.

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ComiXology launches DRM-free comic book downloads from select publishers


Thursday, July 24, 2014, 05:17 pm PT (08:17 pm ET)

Popular iOS comic book app comiXology on Thursday sent out emails to existing customers, notifying them of a new DRM-free backup download service for content from certain publishers.

ComiXology has been one of the top grossing iPad apps for years.

According to the message from comiXology, select comics from Image, IDW Publishing, Dynamite Entertainment, Zenescope Entertainment, MonkeyBrain Comics, Thrillbent and Top Shelf Productions are now available to download without digital rights management restrictions.

In addition, comiXology Submit artists can opt-in to the service if they so choose. The list of publications supporting the feature is expected to grow, with “many more” said to be jumping on the DRM-free bandwagon in the future.

As noted on the comiXology’s frequently asked questions webpage for the new program, also launched on Thursday, customers who have already purchased digital copies of now DRM-free books can download a copy as a PDF or CBZ file. Users will see a list of books that support DRM-free backup on in the My Backups tab of the My Books area.

An obvious drawback to the download service is that both PDF and CBZ files cannot be used in comiXology’s Comics app, meaning the company’s proprietary “Guided View” reader tech is also unavailable.

Shortly after being acquired by Amazon in April, comiXology pushed out a new version of its iOS app, stripping it of in-app purchasing capabilities. The apparent play to skirt Apple’s App Store fees forced users to buy comics through the company’s Web portal, a method used by Amazon in its Kindle app. Apple normally takes a 30-percent cut of all app sales, including in-app purchases.

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Judge voices concern over Apple’s $450M e-book settlement, says may hurt consumers


Thursday, July 24, 2014, 05:52 pm PT (08:52 pm ET)

U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote on Thursday said she is concerned about the terms of Apple’s settlement with a class of consumers due hundreds of millions of dollars over e-book price fixing, claiming certain provisions could greatly reduce the damages payout.

According to in-court reports from Reuters, Judge Cote takes issue with a particular settlement clause that would require Apple to only pay $70 million if her earlier decision is overturned by an appeals court and sent back down for reevaluation. Alternatively, if the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ultimately exonerates Apple, the company pays nothing.

The jurist went on to question the fairness of such a decrease in monetary damages, noting an appellate court could feasibly send the case back on a minor issue. That Apple would not be forced to pay interest on said damages during appeals proceedings was also a bone of contention.

“We thought given that unlikely scenario and the legal risk we would face it would be a good outcome for consumers,” said Steve Berman, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs. After the session, Berman told the publication that his team would now reconsider the settlement after hearing Judge Cote’s concerns.

In a July 2013 ruling, Judge Cote found Apple guilty of colluding with five major book publishers to inflate the prices of e-books sold through the iBookstore. The U.S. Department of Justice presented the antitrust case against Apple that ultimately brought an injunction barring the company from entering any similar arrangement with other parties.

Apple settled the case with 33 U.S. states and territories last week for a maximum of $450 million, with $400 million going directly to consumers affected by the iBookstore’s e-book pricing. Plaintiffs were expected to seek up to $840 million if the case went to trial.

The settlement has not yet been ratified by Judge Cote, meaning its terms can be modified before being accepted by the court.

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Google updates Gmail for iOS with enhanced Google Drive integration


Thursday, July 24, 2014, 01:09 pm PT (04:09 pm ET)

Heavy users of Google’s web services suite will be pleased with the latest update to the company’s Gmail app for iOS, which adds two new features that more tightly couple Gmail with Google Drive.

Users can now save attachments from messages directly to Google Drive, rather than being forced to download them to their device. The same functionality also works in reverse, allowing Drive files to be inserted into new messages.

In addition, the update adds account management options to help de-clutter the user interface. Users can choose which of their Gmail accounts to show without removing accounts used by other Google apps on the same device.

Finally, users can now change their Gmail profile picture in the app’s settings pane.

Gmail version 3.14159 (pi) is available now as a free, 9.3-megabyte download from the App Store.

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