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August 16, 2014

Report: Apple Gambles $700M on Sapphire iPhone Display

iPhone 6 sapphire display leaks, and it’s indestructible

Every cell phone owner is familiar with the overwhelming feeling of dread when your device slips out of your hand or gets knocked off a table. Did it scratch? Can I still send Snapchats through the cracked screen?

Apple's next-generation iPhone may ease those fears. The company is rumored to be replacing its Gorilla Glass screen with a new sapphire glass display made by partner GT Advanced Technologies.

But that sort of relief doesn't come cheap. According to The Wall Street Journal, Cupertino is gambling $700 million on the harder, more flexible material.

Typically used in airplane windows and armored vehicles to protect against extreme conditions, the massively expensive sapphire is often used only sparingly—perhaps as a scratch-resistant cover for costly watches.

Apple already uses the material, according to the Journal, to cover its iPhone camera lense and fingerprint reader. But what could widespread use mean for oft-damaged screens?



August 15, 2014

Report: Sprint to Get Aggressive, Launch Cheaper Plans

Sprint Logo Sprint is wasting no time mourning the demise of its rumored acquisition of T-Mobile and departure of former CEO Dan Hesse; new chief Marcelo Claure on Thursday reportedly announced service changes during a company-wide meeting.

According to LightReading, Claure will start his stint at CEO by launching new, aggressive pricing plans next week.

"We're going to change our plans to make sure they are simple and attractive and make sure every customer in America thinks twice about signing up to a competitor," Claure said during a Sprint town hall meeting.

"When you have a great network, you don't have to compete on price," the Brightstar Corp. founder added, according to LightReading. "When your network is behind, unfortunately you have to compete on value and price."

Sprint declined to comment on the report.



August 11, 2014

Apple Patent Suggests Siri-Like Virtual Assistant for OS X

Siri

It's always fun to watch people who treat Apple's Siri like a best friend. You know who we're talking about—that one friend who uses Apple's digital assistant for just about everything. Siri, set the timer for 10 minutes. Siri, what is my friend's address? Siri, read my last email. With these people, poor Siri should get paid overtime.

Or, if Apple's latest patent application results in a successful product launch, perhaps Siri should find a new job entirely. According to a report from Apple Insider, Apple has applied for a patent that covers a desktop version of a Siri-like virtual assistant.

"Methods and systems related to interfaces for interacting with a digital assistant in a desktop environment are disclosed," reads the patent application. "In some embodiments, a digital assistant is invoked on a user device by a gesture following a predetermined motion pattern on a touch-sensitive surface of the user device. In some embodiments, a user device selectively invokes a dictation mode or a command mode to process a speech input depending on whether an input focus of the user device is within a text input area displayed on the user device."

"In some embodiments, a digital assistant performs various operations in response to one or more objects being dragged and dropped onto an iconic representation of the digital assistant displayed on a graphical user interface," it continues. "In some embodiments, a digital assistant is invoked to cooperate with the user to complete a task that the user has already started on a user device."



August 5, 2014

Rumor: Apple to Unveil Next iPhones Sept. 9

Apple logo Excited to get a look at the next-generation iPhones? Word has it that Apple is planning to show them off in just a little over a month.

Re/code, which has a pretty strong track record with Apple event rumors, is reporting that the Cupertino tech giant will unveil its next iPhones on Tuesday, Sept. 9. That date would keep things consistent with last year's iPhone showcase—Apple launched its iPhone 5s and 5c on Sept. 10, 2013.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment about the Re/code report, and has made no official announcements about its next-gen smartphones.

So what can we expect on Sept. 9? The new iPhone lineup is widely expected to include two new models: a 4.7-inch handset, and a 5.5-inch version. Recent rumors indicate that production issues surrounding the phablet-sized device could delay its launch until November. Keep in mind that there were similar rumors about delays for the iPad mini with Retina display, but those were largely inaccurate.



August 4, 2014

Leak Teases White Xbox One

White Xbox OneThe Xbox One is currently only available in one color: basic, boring black. But it might soon be on sale in white, too.

According to a listing from the French retailer Micromania, the white Xbox One could make its retail debut as part of a new bundle with the platform exclusive title Sunset Overdrive. The now-removed listing indicated that the white Xbox One bundle will be priced at €399 ($535).

Microsoft last year gifted its employees with a free white-and-silver Xbox One, but the light-colored console has never been available to the general public. The news prompted plenty of requests for Microsoft to market the white version.

"Looks 10x better than black," NeoGAF user Aquavelvaman wrote at the time.

A handful of Microsoft employees (or their family and friends) decided to try and make a few extra bucks by selling their exclusive white and silver Xbox One gaming consoles. Ten white versions of the machine appeared on eBay in March for upwards of $3,500 from nine different sellers.



July 28, 2014

Rumor: Amazon to Debut Mobile Credit Card Reader in August

Square Reader Mobile payments are all the rage nowadays. At least it seems that way thanks to gadgets and services from Square, PayPal, Intuit, Google, and more.

Amazon, which recently released its own digital wallet app for Android, might soon be joining them. According to 9to5Mac, documents from Staples indicate that an "Amazon Card Reader" is being added to the company's stock alongside Paypal's "Here" mobile card reader and Staples's own mobile card reader.

According to Staples's internal system, Amazon's card reader — if it does see the light of day — should end up costing interested purchasers a mere $10. That's a smidge less than the $15 Staples wants for PayPal's Here or its own "Mobile Register" card reader.

Though there isn't a specific launch date for Amazon's alleged device, 9to5Mac reports that Staples stores have been asked to wait until at least Aug. 12 to put up any signs about Amazon's card reader. That doesn't necessarily mean that the device is for-sure launching on Aug. 12, but it — and diagrams from Staples that show exactly where the device will be located on store shelves — do seem to indicate that Amazon's credit card reader is a bit closer to reality than speculation.

While we don't have any details on just how exactly the card reader will work, we can only presume that it would somehow tie into Amazon's Mobile Wallet in some capacity — although the latter, as of this article's writing, doesn't yet support mobile payments, credit cards, or debit cards.

It's also rumored that this isn't going to be Amazon's only foray into payments. The company is allegedly also working on fingerprint-based mobile payment systems, likely akin to what Apple is simultaneously pursuing (using Touch ID) with a number of national retailers.

It remains to be seen how retailers might take to Amazon's interests in payment systems, however, given that using those might very well be helping out their direct competition in some capacity.

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July 23, 2014

Apple Patent Tips ‘iTime’ Watch

Apple iWatch patent

Apple iWatch rumors began anew this week with news that Cupertino has been granted a smartwatch-related patent for a technology it has dubbed iTime.

Drawings of the device look similar to smartwatches currently on the market, but the iTime comes with a twist: its rectangular face can be removed to operate independently of the band, which provides its own set of separate sensors.

The central iTime unit could serve as a sort of mini iPod, and in fact does resemble the 7th-gen iPod nano, storing and playing media controlled via the touch-screen display, as well as displaying information about incoming phone calls and text messages.

Apple also described the watch's "personal wireless environment," which allows for the exchange of information between nearby cellular- or Internet-connected iDevices or Mac computers. That way, wearers can receive push notifications directly on their wrist.



July 22, 2014

Apple Going Big With New iPhone Orders

iPhone 5S and 5C Apple is feeling super confident about its new phablet-sized iPhones.

The Cupertino tech giant has asked its suppliers to manufacture between 70 and 80 million of the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch handsets by Dec. 30, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. That's Apple's biggest initial iPhone production run, surpassing the 50 million to 60 million iPhone 5s and 5c models it ordered last year, the report notes.

Apple's two main iPhone makers — Foxconn and Pegatron Corp — plan to start mass producing the 4.7-inch model in August while Foxconn parent Hon Hai will exclusively begin making the 5.5-inch handset in September. To get ready, Foxconn and Pegatron have been on a "hiring binge" in China, with Foxconn hiring workers by the hundreds every day.

The Journal report also backs up previous rumors that the new iPhones will feature all-metal cases, like the iPhone 5s, and come in several different colors. At 4.7 and 5.5 inches, the new devices dwarf the current 4-inch Retina display iPhone 5s.

The new iPhones are expected to make their debut this fall, but there were recently reports about production issues surrounding the phablet-sized device could delay its launch until November. Of course, there were similar rumors about the iPad mini with Retina display, but those were largely inaccurate.

Another iPhone rumor, meanwhile, says that the handsets will sport super-durable sapphire crystal displays, which are practically indestructible. In addition, word has it that the Apple logo on the back of the phones will light up for notifications, meaning you'll be able to put the handset face down and still be alerted to an incoming message.



July 21, 2014

Rumor: Notifications to Light Up Apple Logo on iPhone 6

iPhone 6 Glowing Apple Logo Rumor If the latest rumors are true, iPhone 6 users will have no excuse for missing a text message.

Word has it that the Apple logo on the back of the phone will light up for notifications on the next version of Apple's smartphone. This means you'll be able to put the handset face down and still be alerted to an incoming message.

The rumor has been circulating for some time, but new photos obtained by uSwitch with the help of notorious Apple leaker Sonny Dickson offer even more evidence that Apple may be going for the glow with its next iPhone. The site compared the rear housing of the alleged iPhone 6 with earlier-generation iPhone shells to reach its conclusion.

"Rear housings for previous iPhones were aperture-free solid blocks that featured the Apple logo embossed on the exterior of the handset," the site notes. "However … this time the logo is part of a plastic panel that's inserted in a recessed part of the interior of the rear housing and peeks through the hole. Tellingly, the plastic part looks to have been made thin enough that light can easily shine through to alert you to updates and other important messages."

Savvy iPhone users may know that you can already use the flash on the back of your phone as a notification light for text messages and other alerts. To enable this feature head over to Settings > General > Accessibility, and switch on the option "LED Flash for Alerts."

Meanwhile on the iPhone front, Apple is widely expected to unveil two new smartphones this fall: a 4.7-inch handset, and a 5.5-inch model, though the larger handset may be delayed due to production issues. The handsets will likely sport super-durable sapphire crystal displays, which are practically indestructible.



July 17, 2014

Report: Amazon Testing eBook Subscription Service

Kindle Unlimited How would you like Amazon Prime, but for eBooks? It's reportedly on its way.

As first reported by GigaOm, Amazon appears to be testing a new ebook and audiobook subscription service, dubbed "Kindle Unlimited," which will let you read to your heart's content for $9.99 a month. The retail giant hasn't yet announced Kindle Unlimited, and did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but users spotted promotional pages for the service on the company's website.

"Enjoy unlimited access to over 600,000 titles and thousands of audiobooks on any device for just $9.99 a month," the page reads.

A look at the leaked page reveals that major publishers may not be down with Amazon's new ebook subscription approach. According to GigaOm, one page shows 638,416 available titles, including favorites like the The Hunger Games and Harry Potter series, but nothing from top publishers like Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins.

Participating publishers include: Algonquin (Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen); Bloomsbury; Harvard University Press (Capital by Thomas Piketty); Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (The Giver by Lois Lowry and Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin); Open Road Media; W.W. Norton (Flash Boys by Michael Lewis); and Workman (Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams).

Amazon's new offering will compete with other ebook subscription services like Scribd and Oyster. Scribd in January launched on the Kindle Fire, offering unlimited access to more than 400,000 books from over 900 publishers for $8.99 a month.