Apple Stores to soon open up iPhone sales via AT&T Next, T-Mobile JUMP, & Verizon Edge

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Apple is preparing a significant expansion of its iPhone sales capabilities in its official retail stores, according to sources. Late in August, many Apple Stores in the United States will kick off a pilot program for customers to be able to purchase a new iPhone via the latest carrier upgrade programs: AT&T Next, T-Mobile JUMP, and Verizon Edge. Currently, iPhones bought at Apple Stores must either be purchased on a two-year deal, or at full-price (unlocked) with no contract…

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Amazon apparently set to launch Square-competitor in August as it develops biometric payment solutions

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Amazon could be preparing to launch its own mobile credit card reading hardware in the coming weeks, according to internal Staples documents hinting at such a launch that we’ve obtained. According to the documents, Staples stores will prepare next month to stock a new product called the “Amazon Card Reader” alongside existing card readers from Square, PayPal, and Staples’ own in-house brand. The small hardware, which will likely connect to smartphones to process payments, will cost $9.99, according to the Staples internal sales systems…

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Faster Retina MacBook Pros w/ 16GB of RAM across the board teased by unverified Apple Store photo

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An image posted on a Chinese forum, claimed to have been taken inside of Apple’s new Paradise Walk store, indicates that Apple could be preparing to release an updated line of Retina MacBook Pros in the near-future. The image appears to be from one of Apple’s iPad Smart Signs within the store, and the sign advertises 15-inch MacBook Pros with technical specifications and features not found in the current lineup.

The first possibility is that this image is faked, but the other likely possibility is a system error on Apple’s part. There’s also room for this image to indicate an actual MacBook Pro lineup update coming in the near-future. The rumored specifications indicate that Apple will be bumping the standard 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro line from two models to three, and all will include 16GB of RAM as a standard option. Here are all the purported models:

  • 2.2GHz Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost to 3.4GHz), 16GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and Intel Iris Pro Graphics
  • 2.5GHz Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost to 3.7GHz), 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and Intel Iris Pro Graphics & NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M w/2GB Video Memory
  • 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost to 4.0GHz), 16GB of RAM, 1TB of storage, and Intel Iris Pro Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M w/2GB Video Memory

For comparison, here is the current MacBook Pro with Retina display lineup:

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Apple Stores unify employee shirts as major customer service enhancements planned

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Apple is taking a small-step to unifying the attire of its U.S.-based Apple Store employees this upcoming week: the black shirts worn by Apple Store Business Team members for several years will be going into retirement, and all Apple Store employees will begin wearing the same, classic blue t-shirts as normally seen on the store sales floors. Is this a move from the handbook of Angela Ahrendts’ fashion background? Probably not. Sources say that the move happened in Europe a few months ago and the change-up is simply to unify the Apple Store teams as one. The business team will continue to exist in its current form (for now), so this is mostly just a visual change.

In other news, multiple sources also say that Apple is planning some significant operational changes within its stores to improve customer experience…

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NFC rumored for next iPhone for fourth year in a row, this time based on leaked circuit board

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A new iPhone is shipping in a few months, so that naturally means that there is talk of the new Apple device including NFC capabilities. This time, the claims come via website NoWhereElse.fr, which claims that the above printed circuit board is a legitimate iPhone 6 part that includes an NFC chip and an 802.11ac WiFi card among the usual other components. Why would Apple include NFC, an old technology far inferior to Bluetooth Low Energy? I’m not sure, so don’t count on it happening. You can see from the image above that the iPhone 6 part is quite similar to the current iPhone’s variant, and today’s leak does not tell us much more about what we already know is coming: a thinner, lighter device, with a larger and higher-resolution display, new sensors, and a faster processor. We’ve reported that at least the upcoming 4.7-inch model will take its bow in mid-September, while the 5.5-inch version is shipping later.

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Apple acquired BookLamp startup for $10-15 million earlier this year (update: confirmed)

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Apple acquired a company called BookLamp earlier this year for somewhere between $10-15 million, according to information uncovered by TechCrunch.

The Idaho-based startup created what was referred to as “Pandora for books,” including a system known as the Book Genome Project that could recommend books based on analysis of the text and previous ratings of other books by users (very similar to Pandora’s Music Genome Project, which does the same thing for musical analysis).

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Bose files lawsuit against Beats Electronics over noise-cancelling technology patent

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Update: Statement from Bose regarding the complaint below the fold…

Bose has filed a legal complaint against Beats Electronics over the use of noise-cancelling technology used in their headphones, according to CNBC. Apple, of course, announced earlier this year plans to acquire the headphones maker in a $3 billion deal, which it expects to gain regulatory approval for by the end of September.

Re/code reports that Bose has filed a request with the International Trade Commission to ban the sale and import of certain Beats products. The following patents owned by Bose appear to be relevant in the complaint: Read more

iOS 8′s iPhoto to Photos app transition to ditch Journals, Books, and Slideshows

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Starting in iOS 8 beta 4, which was released this past Monday to developers, Apple has begun notifying users of the soon-to-be-defunct iPhoto for iOS to migrate their iPhoto data to the totally revamped Photos app in iOS 8, as part of Apple’s new photo strategy being rolled out this fall and early next year. While photo data can be migrated out of iPhoto, Apple warns that Journals, Slideshows and Book layouts will no longer be available going forward. Right now, Apple’s “Learn More” link appears to be dead.

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Review: BACtrack Vio keyfob-sized Bluetooth breathalyzer

People don’t always appreciate the degree of dedication and devotion to duty that can be required to carry out a review. In order to test the BACtrack Vio keyfob breathalyzer, I was forced to drink wine on a number of different occasions, the most recent of which – last night – a friend and I decided that a second bottle would be needed in order to meet 9to5Mac standards of thoroughness …  Read more

Apple’s investment in product development indicates revenue explosion, new product categories this quarter, says analyst

investment Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty says that an analysis of Apple’s recent SEC filing strongly suggests that the company has not only made a big bet on the success of the iPhone 6, with large advance orders, but also that it is likely to launch the long-awaited iWatch this quarter.

The graph, obtained by Business Insider, shows the historical correlation between off-balance sheet commitments – the technical financial term for money invested in things like tooling, component purchases and manufacturing contracts – and quarterly revenue. Essentially, if you know how much Apple is investing in new products in one quarter, you can pretty accurately predict its revenue in the following quarter …  Read more

iCloud Mail experiencing issues with slower than normal responses

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iCloud Mail is currently experiencing service issues. The conflict has been impacting users for more than an hour and is currently ongoing according to Apple’s system status page. “Users may experience slower than normal response when using iCloud mail,” Apple’s description of the service disruption says.

It appears Apple’s App Store, iTunes Store, and iBooks Store also experienced down time with customers not being able to make purchases, but Apple’s system status page says that outage was resolved after just over an hour. The iCloud Mail issue, however, is ongoing. (Update: Resolved as expected.)

Nope, it’s not just you, John Hodgman, but we do miss your ads.

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Hands-on with a functional 4.7-inch iPhone 6 clone, attention to detail is ridiculous (Video)

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A functional “Wico6″ iPhone 6 clone has made its way into a detailed hands-on video published by YouTuber Danny Winget. This functional clone mimics Apple’s iPhone in almost every way possible, all the way down to the packaging and accessories. So what’s the big deal? Apple clones pop up all of the time. Well, the Wico6 is designed to look like all of the iPhone 6 dummies we’ve seen up to the point.

This “fully functional” device does work as a smartphone (SIM card slot and all), but it’s not running iOS. Much like Goophone’s i6 copycat device, the Wico6 runs a skinned version of Android that’s designed to look like iOS. There’s nothing fancy here as far as specifications go, but it’s surprising how far this company went in terms of design and user interface to make a functional clone…

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