iPhone 7 Chip Manufacturer Counts Cost of Earthquake Damage

The sole company responsible for manufacturing the processor in Apple’s upcoming iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus has reduced its shipping estimates after its facilities were damaged in an earthquake (via DigiTimes).

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) suffered the damage to its plants on February 6 when a 6.4-magnitude quake struck the southern part of the country.

Initially, TSMC reported that the damage incurred would reduce the amount of chips it could ship by less than 1 percent. However, this morning the company revised that estimate and said shipment numbers could be affected over the 1 percent mark, but stopped short of giving a specific number.

Mockup of iPhone 7 case showing flush rear camera and no antenna bands across rear

Despite the earthquake, TSMC stated it is confident of hitting target revenues of $5.9-6.0 billion in the first quarter of 2016. Whether the damage will affect production of the iPhone 7 chip, which is expected to begin in June, remains unclear.

TSMC reached a deal with Apple only last week to become the sole manufacturer for the iPhone 7’s processor, partly thanks to its 10-nanometer manufacturing process. Apple used both Samsung and TSMC to manufacture the chips for the iPhone 6s, perhaps in a bid to lower risks, but the arrangement caused some controversy after benchmarks indicated performance variances between the companies’ processors.

The processor in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus is likely called the A10. Both devices are expected to debut in September. Leaks of the phones’ design suggest that it may have a flush rear camera and a lack of antenna bands on its back. Other rumors indicate that the 7 Plus may feature a dual-lens camera system and that it may be waterproof and not have a headphone jack.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tags: TSMC, A10
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OS X 10.11.4 Beta Adds Live Photos Support for Messages

Alongside the iOS 9.3 beta seeded to developers earlier this week, Apple also provided an OS X 10.11.4 beta with some minor updates to the OS X El Capitan operating system. OS X 10.11.4 was overshadowed by all of the features introduced in iOS 9.3 so it’s taken a few days for people to dig into the release to find out what’s new.

One of the new additions to OS X 10.11.4 is improved Live Photos support in the Messages app. When Live Photos were introduced with the launch of the iPhone 6s, the only place to view them on a Mac was within the Mac Photos app. As of OS X 10.11.4, Live Photos can also be viewed directly in the Messages app on a Mac running the operating system update.

When a message containing a Live Photo is received on OS X 10.11.4, it will have the familiar concentric circles icon that marks a Live Photo. Clicking on a Live Photo will open up the mini photo viewer as is standard procedure with viewing any photo within Messages on a Mac, and in this view, the Live Photo will now play when the Live Photo icon is clicked.

The ability to view Live Photos directly within the Messages app is a useful change that makes it possible to see Live Photos content sent from friends and family without needing to open it up on an iOS device or save it to Photos on the Mac. In the future, Apple could expand Live Photos support even further, making them viewable in other apps like Mail, Safari, notes, and more.

For those unfamiliar with Live Photos, it’s an iPhone 6s feature that adds a hint of motion to still photos, not unlike the magical animated photos from the Harry Potter universe. Live Photos capture 3 seconds of video around a still image, which is played back when a photo is touched using a 3D Touch gesture on an iPhone 6s. Live Photos can only be taken with an iPhone 6s or 6s Plus, but they can be viewed on any iOS device running iOS 9 or any Mac running OS X El Capitan.

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OS X 10.11.4 will likely come out alongside iOS 9.3, which Apple says will be released in the spring. As for other new features, the update also includes support for password protected notes in the Notes app.

Related Roundup: OS X El Capitan
Tags: Live Photos, OS X 10.11.4
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Elon Musk Says Apple’s Electric Car Project is an ‘Open Secret’

In an interview with the BBC, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said it is an „open secret“ that Apple is developing an electric car. Musk made the statement when asked if he had heard anything about Apple’s car development plans and went on to highlight the huge number of hires Apple has made as evidence.

„Well, it’s pretty hard to hide something if you hire over a thousand engineers to do it,“ he said, before adding that he believed Apple was serious about the project. „This is an open secret.“

Musk went on to say Tesla welcomes participation by any company that wants to create electric vehicles, but he cautioned that it’s „quite hard to do.“ He brushed off the interviewer’s question of whether an Apple car would be a threat to Tesla, and said that he believes Apple will develop a „compelling“ electric car because „it seems like the obvious thing to do.“

„Tesla will still aspire to make the most compelling electric vehicles, and that would be our goal, while at the same helping other companies to make electric cars as well.“

Musk is aware of Apple’s hiring efforts because Apple has made an effort to hire former Tesla employees for its car project. The two companies have developed something of a rivalry as they compete for talent, leading Musk to take a jab at Apple in an October interview, saying „If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple,“ a statement he later retracted.

The first rumors surrounding Apple’s car project, allegedly codenamed „Project Titan,“ surfaced in early 2015. Since then, Apple has recruited dozens of engineers and researchers from the automotive industry and other car-related fields, poaching employees from companies like Tesla, Ford, GM, Chrysler, Volkswagen, Samsung, and more.

Over the past few months, there’s been a growing body of evidence pointing towards work on a car. Apple sought out a secure testing facility for testing electric vehicles in May of 2015, and met with DMV officials to discuss the laws and regulations surrounding self-driving vehicles in California in September. Most recently, Apple registered three auto-related top-level domain names, including apple.car, apple.cars, and apple.auto.

Little is known about Apple’s car project, but the company is rumored to be working on an electric vehicle. Rumors have disagreed on the topic of autonomy, but the most recent information suggests that while Apple is exploring self-driving technology, it is a feature that may come in a later version of the Apple Car.

Related Roundup: Apple Car
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Leaked ‘iPhone 7’ Display Backlight Shows Moved 3D Touch and Flex Cables

Taiwanese website Apple.club.tw has shared leaked images of the purported backlight assembly for the „iPhone 7“ display. The component draws some similarities to the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus backlight assembly, although the 3D Touch chip and LCD flex cables are relocated on this leaked part.

Leaked backlight assembly purportedly for „iPhone 7“ display

The website speculates the component could also be for Apple’s next-generation 4-inch iPhone, but previous reports have said the much-rumored „iPhone 6c“ will not have 3D Touch. The pictured size of the 3D Touch chip and flex cables also suggests the backlight assembly is designed for larger than a 4-inch display.

iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus backlight assembly for comparison

Apple.club.tw has accurately leaked or republished multiple Apple products in the past, including the iPhone 6 protruding camera lens, iPhone 6 logic board and iPad Air 2 logic board, but its February 2015 rumor about Apple adding Touch ID on the MacBook, Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad has yet to happen.

Apple may remove the 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in favor of an all-in-one Lightning connector, possibly helping the smartphones achieve between 6.0mm and 6.5mm thinness and a waterproof design. The devices may also have a faster TSMC-built A10 chip and non-metallic casing with hidden antenna bands.

iPhone 7 Plus could have 3GB of RAM, 256GB storage and a larger 3,100 mAh battery.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tags: apple.club.tw, 3D Touch, backlight assembly
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Target Working on QR Code Mobile Wallet as Apple Pay Holdout Continues

Target is in early stages of developing its own mobile wallet solution that could launch as early as next year, according to Reuters. The fourth-largest U.S. retailer is leaning towards using QR code technology for the payments app, rather than NFC, enabling customers to purchase goods by scanning a code at checkout akin to Walmart Pay announced last week.

Target is working on a mobile wallet for use at checkout (Image: MADELINECOYNE)

The retailer reportedly plans to integrate the mobile wallet into its existing app available on iOS and Android, and will directly link customers’ credit cards for payments. The wallet will likely support both Target’s Red store credit and debit cards and ones from other issuers. Target does not currently accept any mobile wallets in it stores, but does support Apple Pay in its iPhone and iPad app.

Target’s plans to launch its own mobile wallet raise questions about its commitment to rival payment platforms. A company spokesperson confirmed that Target remains an active member of the Merchant Customer Exchange, a consortium of retailers developing the payments system CurrentC, and the retailer is also exploring additional mobile wallet solutions, according to the report.

Target CEO Brian Cornell said in May that the retailer is „open-minded“ about supporting Apple Pay or other payment services after upgrading its point-of-sale systems with chip-and-PIN card support, but the company has not announced any specific plans since. A few other MCX retailers including Best Buy and Rite Aid have already reversed course and started accepting Apple Pay this year.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
Tags: MCX, CurrentC, Target
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Volvo’s First CarPlay Vehicle in the U.S. is the 2016 XC90, Available Now

After long promising to implement CarPlay support in its vehicles, Volvo recently announced that the new 2016 XC90 is the company’s first CarPlay-enabled car in the United States, reports CNET.

The new vehicle is equipped with a 9-inch touchscreen in the center console, with the CarPlay interface featured on the bottom half of the screen. Volvo’s Sensus Connect controls remain at the top of the screen, offering access to features like directions, media playing, temperature, and more.

A button on the steering wheel brings up Siri, allowing users to compose messages, place phone calls, and access built-in CarPlay apps.

Like most CarPlay vehicles, Volvo owners will need to connect their iPhones directly to the vehicle using the built-in Lightning connector. Volvo has said it will support wireless CarPlay features in the future, but wireless capabilities are not yet available.

All 2016 XC90 vehicles are eligible for CarPlay support. Those who already purchased a 2016 XC90 can make a service appointment with their dealer to get the update installed.

Though CarPlay was first announced in 2014, it’s taken many months for car manufacturers to get on board. Late 2015 and early 2016 will see more than a dozen car makers releasing their first vehicles with CarPlay support, and we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of all upcoming CarPlay cars.

Related Roundup: CarPlay
Tag: Volvo
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Apple Seeds Fifth OS X 10.11.2 El Capitan Beta to Developers and Public Beta Testers

Apple today seeded the fifth beta of an upcoming OS X 10.11.2 El Capitan update to developers and public beta testers, two weeks after seeding the fourth beta and more than a month after releasing OS X 10.11.1, the first OS X El Capitan update, to the public.

The fifth beta, build 15C48a, is available through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store and can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center. Public beta testers can download the beta through the Mac App Store.

OS X 10.11.2 appears to be an under-the-hood update as the four previous betas have not included any apparent outward-facing changes. OS X 10.11.2 is likely to include bug fixes, security enhancements, and performance improvements to address problems that have popped up since the release of OS X 10.11.1.

Apple’s release notes for OS X 10.11.2 have asked developers to focus on Networking, Graphics, Mail, Wi-Fi, Calendar, USB, Notes, Photos, and Spotlight.

Related Roundup: OS X El Capitan
Tag: OS X 10.11.2
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New 4-Inch iPhone Again Predicted to Launch in 2016

IHS Technology research director Kevin Wang, who previously said a new 4-inch iPhone would launch by the end of 2015, has now changed his prediction to mid 2016 on Chinese microblogging service Sina Weibo (via GforGames), corroborating information shared by reliable KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Wang did not provide any new details about Apple’s oft-rumored 4-inch iPhone, beyond confirming the smaller screen size, but Kuo recently said the device will „resemble an upgraded iPhone 5s,“ including a metal design with an A9 processor, and launch in the first quarter of 2016.

As there is still demand for a 4-inch iPhone, we believe Apple will upgrade this product line. Because the iPhone 5s is more popular than the iPhone 5c, we think Apple is likely to launch an upgraded iPhone 5s. We predict Apple will mass-produce this new 4-inch iPhone in 1H16 with metal casings. In order to make the current iOS 9 or next-generation iOS 10 run smoothly, Apple may adopt an A9 chip for this new phone.

Kuo believes the so-called „iPhone 6c“ will not feature 3D Touch to differentiate it from Apple’s flagship iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Foxconn is expected to be the primary manufacturer of the 4-inch smartphone, with 20-30 million shipments projected through the end of 2016.

Given his recent track record, Wang’s new prediction should be treated with a proverbial grain of salt, but it does corroborate multiple rumors suggesting Apple will release a new 4-inch smartphone in 2016. The so-called „iPhone 6c“ was originally rumored to launch in 2015, but those plans were reportedly scrapped.

Related Roundup: iPhone 6c (2016)
Tags: IHS, Kevin Wang
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NewerTech’s ‘HDMI Headless Video Accelerator’ Keeps GPU Active for Better Performance With No Display

NewerTech today announced the launch of its HDMI Headless Video Accelerator, an adapter that’s designed to plug into the Mac mini’s HDMI display port to fool it into thinking there’s a display attached. With the adapter plugged in, the Mac mini’s GPU is activated and video drivers are loaded, resulting in smoother performance.

When the Mac mini is used without a monitor, its GPU isn’t used. As a result, the interface lags, resulting in choppy screens and slow video, animation, cursor movements, menu navigation, and typing. Plugging the NewerTech HDMI Headless Video Accelerator into the HDMI port of the Mac mini solves this problem, engaging the GPU so your remote interface works exactly how you’d expect.

Apple’s small and portable Mac mini is often used sans display as a storage device or a media server, but without a display, the Mac mini does not take advantage of its GPU. Without an active GPU, certain tasks performed on the Mac mini can be choppy and laggy, such as visiting websites, as described in a Macminicolo blog post on the subject.

This kind of adaptation has been used by Macminicolo on video intensive servers for several years, but as the site says, even simple web browsing benefits from having active video drivers. Macminicolo even recommends a similar dummy dongle product directly on its site.

The NewerTech HDMI Headless Video Accelerator is designed to work with the following Mac mini models: Mac mini Mid 2010 (Macmini4,1), Mac mini Mid 2011 (Macmini5,1 / Macmini5,2 / Macmini5,3), Mac mini Late 2012 (Macmini6,1 / Macmini6,2), Mac mini Late 2014 (Macmini7,1). It works with OS X 10.6.8 and later.

Mac mini owners interested in purchasing the NewerTech HDMI Headless Video Accelerator can do so from third-party retailers like OWC. The adapter is priced at $19.50.

Related Roundup: Mac mini
Tag: NewerTech
Buyer’s Guide: Mac Mini (Don’t Buy)
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Apple Seeds Third OS X 10.11.2 El Capitan Beta to Developers

Apple today seeded the third beta of an upcoming OS X 10.11.2 El Capitan update to developers, just one week after seeding the second beta and three weeks after releasing the first OS X El Capitan update to the public, OS X 10.11.1.

The new beta is available through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store and can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center.

We don’t know exactly what improvements the second update to OS X El Capitan will introduce, as many of the changes seem to be under-the-hood upgrades. It’s likely to focus on bug fixes, security enhancements, and performance improvements to address problems that have popped up since the release of OS X 10.11.1.

Apple’s release notes for OS X 10.11.2 have asked developers to focus on Networking, Graphics, Mail, Wi-Fi, Calendar, USB, Notes, Photos, and Spotlight.

Related Roundup: OS X El Capitan
Tag: OS X 10.11.2
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