Japan Display’s Upcoming Touch Screens Feature Slimmer Bezels, Wet Finger Support

Apple supplier Japan Display revealed some details on its second-generation „Pixel Eyes“ LCD modules over the holidays, providing us with a look at some of the ways the display industry is advancing. Japan Display’s „Pixel Eyes“ modules incorporate touch functionality into the display, and in the second-generation model, there are some exciting improvements.

Using a new sensor structure and new materials, Japan Display has managed to decrease the thickness of the bezel, going from 0.8mm to 0.5mm. A deeper black level is available, and the display can accept input with a stylus as narrow as 1mm for finer detail when drawing or writing.

Perhaps the most intriguing feature in the LCD module is its ability to operate with wet fingers. Many current smartphone screens are unable to work accurately under water and when fingers are wet as water is capacitive and confuses the built-in touch sensors.

iPhones, iPads, and the Apple Watch, for example, don’t respond well to touch with wet fingers or when placed in water, so technology like this could be essential if Apple wants to have a functional display in a device advertised as „waterproof.“ Some iPhone 7 rumors have indicated the next-generation iPhone could be a waterproof device.

In a report earlier this week, The Motley Fool highlighted Japan Display’s second-generation „Pixel Eyes“ technology and the possibility it could be included in the iPhone 7. Volume shipments on the displays will begin during the current quarter, making them available for possible inclusion in the iPhone 7 when Apple begins ramping up production during the summer months.

While Japan Display is one of Apple’s suppliers, it is not entirely clear if Japan Display screens are used in the iPhone and if the second-generation Pixel Eyes display technology will be used in future products. There have been rumors suggesting Apple and Japan Display have partnered up for a $1.7 billion display plant to produce screens for iPhones in 2016, so it’s not out of the question that we’ll see Japan Display screens in the iPhone 7 or the iPhone 7s.

Regardless of whether Japan Display’s technology ends up in the iPhone, the advancements made by the company serve as an interesting glimpse at features that could be adopted more widely by the display industry in the future, eventually making their way into Apple’s devices.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
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Japan Display’s Upcoming Touch Screens Feature Slimmer Bezels, Wet Finger Support

Apple Developing iPhone With Extended Range Wireless Charging for as Soon as 2017

Apple is reportedly developing a wirelessly-charged iPhone for as soon as 2017, according to Bloomberg. The company is working with its partners in both the U.S. and Asia to create the technology.

Apple is exploring cutting-edge technologies that would allow iPhones and iPads to be powered from further away than the charging mats used with current smartphones, the people said, asking not to be identified as the details are private. The iPhone maker is looking to overcome technical barriers including loss of power over distance with a decision on implementing the technology still being assessed, they said.

Current wirelessly-charged devices require users to place their phones or other devices on charging mats. In September 2012, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller said that the company wasn’t sure of how convenient wireless charging is as most wireless charging systems still have to be plugged into a wall.

In early January, it was reported that Apple was working on wireless charging for the iPhone 7. However, that report warned that the feature could be pulled from the iPhone 7 for a future iteration of the device as Apple is working on the technology currently.

Apple has held an interest in wireless charging since the first iPhone, gaining patents for wireless charging stations and wireless charging through a near field magnetic resonance, which wirelessly charges a device within a certain region. The Cupertino company has also shown an interest in WiTricity’s wireless charging technology, which uses „hidden charging“ technology that allows magnetic fields to wrap around barriers. This allows users to place their charging pads wherever they want.

Last November it was reported that the iPhone 7 would see the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack for an all-in-one Lightning connector that allows users to both power their device and plug in headphones. While the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack would mean that Apple would be able to make the iPhone thinner, it would not allow users to listen to headphones and charge their phone at the same time. A proprietary wireless charging solution from Apple in future iPhones with all-in-one Lightning connectors would likely allow for that.

Related Roundup: iPhone 6s
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Apple Developing iPhone With Extended Range Wireless Charging for as Soon as 2017

Apple to Open Retail Store on Champs-Élysées in Paris in 2018 or 2019

Apple is planning to open a retail store on the famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, France, reports French site MacGeneration [Google Translate] citing information shared by French newspaper Le Figaro. Rumors about a store on Champs-Élysées have been circulating since 2012, but it appears Apple has finally secured a lease for a storefront on the famous avenue.

Google Maps view of prospective Apple Store location, via MacGeneration

Apple is said to have signed a 12 year lease for a building at 114 avenue des Champs-Élysées in December of 2015. The store will reportedly encompass an area of 6,200 square meters, with offices located above the retail space.

At the current time, 114 avenue des Champs-Élysées is home to several shops and a law firm, but Apple has leased the entire building. According to Le Figaro, Apple will not open the Champs-Élysées store until 2018 or 2019 because it needs time to create a building plan with architectural design partner Norman Foster and obtain authorization for a remodel.

If a store does indeed open on Champs-Élysées, it will be the 20th Apple retail store in France.

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Apple to Open Retail Store on Champs-Élysées in Paris in 2018 or 2019

Glitch Caused Apple to Underestimate Apple News Traffic

Publishers who have been offering their content on Apple News have been receiving incorrect usage statistics from Apple due to an internal glitch that caused the company to miscalculate the number of people using the service, Eddy Cue told The Wall Street Journal in a statement this evening.

According to Cue, Apple has been underestimating the number of readers using the News app since it launched alongside iOS 9 in September. The problem went under the radar because Apple was busy working on improving other aspects of the service. Apple doesn’t know how exactly many people are using the News app, but the company is working to fix the problem.

„We’re in the process of fixing that now, but our numbers are lower than reality,“ [Cue] said. „We don’t know what the right number is,“ but he added that it was better to undercount than overcount traffic.

In October, during Apple’s fourth quarter earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple News had approximately 40 million users, but he did not specify whether that number represented people who use the Apple News app on a regular basis or if it was a number reflecting the number of people who accessed the app at one point or another. Cue echoed that number in his comments to The Wall Street Journal, but it is not clear if that is an accurate figure given Apple’s current inability to calculate exact usage.

Despite not knowing how many people are using Apple News at the current time, Cue says that Apple News usage has „scaled very fast,“ and that the company is happy with the Apple News product’s progress thus far. After launching in the United States in September, Apple News expanded to the U.K. and Australia in October with the launch of iOS 9.1.

As The Wall Street Journal points out, accurate readership numbers are important to publishers because the figures impact advertising. Publishers who share content on Apple News are able to keep 100 percent of proceeds from ads sold on their own, or 70 percent from ads sold through the Apple iAd service. According to Cue, iAd has been popular enough with publishers that Apple will be expanding the platform with a self-service ad-buying feature in the next two months.

Apple has partnered more than a hundred publications for Apple News, including The New York Times, CNN, ESPN, The Atlantic, The Daily Mail, Slate, and more. MacRumors is also on Apple News and can be subscribed to by clicking this link on an iOS device.

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Glitch Caused Apple to Underestimate Apple News Traffic

Twitter Considers Boosting Tweet Length Limits as High as 10,000 Characters

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey last night hinted at an incoming change to the 140-character limit for which the social network has been known over the past decade. Dorsey mentioned that the limit has „become a beautiful constraint“ over the years, but the company is aware of certain workarounds its fans are going through to break away from the rule.

He points towards a possibility in the near future for the site to support full-bodied text tweets that are searchable and can be highlighted by users without a strict 140-character restriction. Back in August, Twitter removed the same limit from its private messaging system, and a month later new rumors about the possibility for the same move for traditional tweets began circling.

„At its core Twitter is public messaging. A simple way to say something, to anyone, that everyone in the world can see instantly. We’ve spent a lot of time observing what people are doing on Twitter, and we see them taking screenshots of text and tweeting it.

Instead, what if that text…was actually text? Text that could be searched. Text that could be highlighted. That’s more utility and power. What makes Twitter, Twitter is its fast, public, live conversational nature. We will always work to to strengthen that. And by focusing on conversation and messaging, the majority of tweets will always be short and sweet and conversational!“

According to people familiar with Twitter’s plans, speaking with Re/code, the project is referred to as „Beyond 140“ and has a tentative launch window around the end of Q1 2016. Numbers that have been considered internally by the team range from 5,000 to 10,000 character limits, the latter of which would fall alongside the same restriction placed inside of private messages on the site.

The sources point to expandable actions for the new tweets that would keep timelines as tight and orderly as they appear with the current limit, but include an expandable prompt that would then showcase the tweet’s full text when clicked. Recently, Twitter updated its site to allow full images to appear without being cut off, and changed the favoriting star to a heart.

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Twitter Considers Boosting Tweet Length Limits as High as 10,000 Characters

‘iPhone 7’ Waterproof Rumors Persist Amid Claims of Hidden Antenna Bands

Catcher Technology will remain the largest chassis supplier for the upcoming line of next-generation iPhones, tentatively referred to as the „iPhone 7,“ according to the China-based Commercial Times (via DigiTimes). Sources noted that Catcher’s non-Apple clients, representing about 40 percent of its overall sales, will keep it going until the majority of its output begins with the manufacturing of the iPhone 7 later in 2016. In total, Catcher Technology’s manufacturing supply is estimated to account for 30 to 35 percent of the shipment numbers for the iPhone 7.

iPhone 7 concept mock-up by designer Martin Hajek

The report also mentioned the continuing rumor that the iPhone 7 may be a completely waterproof device, building on the recent momentum that the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus had this year that showed improved water resistance. The Commercial Times also spoke of „new compound materials“ that would be put in place to form a discreet housing for the iPhone 7’s antenna, suggesting the possible removal of the bands from the back of the current iPhone generation.

As a non S-generation year, the iPhone 7 is expected to be a big step-up from the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, in terms of design and functionality, when it launches next year. Besides a waterproof design and now the possibility of a hidden antenna band, another rumor suggested Apple could be phasing out the 3.5mm headphone jack for an all-in-one Lightning connector port.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7 (2016)
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‘iPhone 7’ Waterproof Rumors Persist Amid Claims of Hidden Antenna Bands

Gorgeous headphone amp isn’t just ear candy

Lust List: Oppo HA-2 portable headphone amplifier and DAC What kind of audiophile nerd do you have to be to shell out 300 clams to “improve” your iPhone audio? Well, that’s what it is going to cost you to convert your digital audio into analog goodness with style. You can find cheaper options than the […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Gorgeous headphone amp isn’t just ear candy

Rovio CEO Leaving ‘Angry Birds’ Company After Just One Year

Rovio, the company behind the successful Angry Birds mobile franchise, today announced that its current CEO Pekka Rantala will be stepping down from the role after just one year in office. As Retuers reported, Rantala’s time at the company included multiple job cuts and restructuring plans within Rovio, and his tenure coincided with the company’s first reported profit decline since the launch of Angry Birds in 2009.

The company has now announced that chief legal officer Kati Levoranta will take the reins as CEO in the first quarter of 2016, after Rantala officially vacates the position. It also revealed a new initiative where „more independence“ will be given its two biggest branches: games and media. Mikael Hed, former Rovio CEO, will lead the media branch while Wilhelm Taht, the current head of external products, will take the lead on the games side. According to the company, this corporate-wide policy change is what spurred Rantala to step down.

„We used to have a corporate model with centralized decisions, but that resulted into too slow reacting in very competitive markets,“ chairman and main owner Kaj Hed told Reuters in an interview. „As the CEO will not be so hands-on anymore, he (Rantala) felt that it wasn’t for him anymore.“

Earlier in the year, reports confirmed that 2014 included Rovio’s first major profit decline due to a lessening interest by fans in the company’s physical consumer products like clothing and toys. Rovio’s profit decline from 2014 also led to the forecasting of impending decline this year, causing 213 jobs to be cut at the company back in October.

The Finnish developer’s Angry Birds franchise brought the company huge success, but has seen diminishing returns recently. At the time of the decline in profit announcement, Rantala hung hope on the impending launch of Angry Birds 2 and next summer’s The Angry Birds Movie as ways to bring the franchise back into the public consciousness.

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Rovio CEO Leaving ‘Angry Birds’ Company After Just One Year