Apple tops the list of the world’s most admired companies for 8th year running

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Apple has topped the list of Fortune‘s list of the World’s Most Admired Companies for the 8th consecutive year, with Google taking the number two slot occupied last year by Amazon, while investment company Berkshire Hathaway moved up one slot into third place.

Apple received the top score in all nine categories of innovation, people management, use of corporate assets, social responsibility, quality of management, financial soundness (was never going to be too much doubt about that one), long-term investment value, quality of products and global competitiveness …  Read more

Apple reportedly poached employees from A123 Systems to work on battery tech, now faces unfair competition lawsuit

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Apple has poached five key engineers from A123 Systems to work in a new battery division at the Cupertino technology company, with some hires possibly going as far back as June, a new report claims. The battery maker claims that these hires violated agreements it had in place to prevent them from joining competing companies.

The employees the report refers to are Don Dafoe, Michael Erickson, Indrajeet Thorat, Mujeeb Ijaz, and Depeng Wang. Three of these workers—Erickson, Thorat, and Wang—were PhD project heads working on new battery technology. Ijaz headed up the System Venture Technologies Division, which oversaw work by all four of the others.

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Motorola president responds to Ive criticism in New Yorker profile, says Apple charging ‘outrageous prices’

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In an amusing retaliation to Jony Ive’s opinion of Motorola’s Moto Maker, Motorola president described their company as a ‘different philosophy’ as well as directly attacking Apple’s product lineup, describing iPhone prices as ‘outrageous’ in a conversation with the BBC. Read more

Apple Pay adds another 19 banks & credit unions, 80+ institutions supported

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The second wave of the month for new banks and credit unions supporting Apple Pay is happening now adding to the more than 60 institutions already supporting Apple’s mobile payment service. The mid-February wave includes 19 additional banks and credit unions bringing the total to more than 80 institutions. Here are the new banks listed as supporting Apple Pay as of today: Read more

Apple Pay top payment method in Staples iOS app, says company, with 30% of sales

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Staples has revealed that Apple Pay is now the most popular form of payment in its iOS app, used for 30% of purchases made using the app. Apple Pay also appears to have driven new sales, with almost two-thirds of those transactions being from first-time Stapes customers, reveals FierceMobileIT.

“Apple Pay has been one of the most successful implementations when it comes to payments. […] Right now it’s the number one payment method for us in our iOS apps,” said Prat Vemana, vice president of mobile commerce for Staples.

Vemana also revealed that while Staples has both iOS and Android apps, with usage split pretty evenly between the two, Apple owners are more profitable, generating 70% of mobile purchases …  Read more

$40 Mac Bundle: Things, ScreenFlow, Typed, Civ, ExpanDrive, Aftershot Pro 2, more

Mac-software-bundleFrom 9to5Toys Specials:

Today we’ve put together a really impressive bundle of 8 Mac apps including the latest versions of Screenflow and Things (which are $100 and $49 at the Mac App Store by themselves!).

Using the coupon code ULTRAMAC5 at checkout, 9to5 readers can get an extra $5 discount over at Specials.9to5Toys.com to buy the whole bundle for $39.99 – that’s 91% off from the $470 retail price. 

Every app’s latest version is included, none of which has ever been in a bundle before (except AfterShot Pro 2). In fact, 6 of the apps cost more by themselves than the whole bundle does!

Here’s what’s in the goodie bag:

  1. ScreenFlow 5 ($99.99) – The best screen recording tool for Mac. Version 5 was released in October and has never been in a bundle before.
  2. Things 2 ($49) – Award-winning task management app that’s never been in a bundle before.
  3. Civilization: Beyond Earth ($49.99) – The latest in the epic Civilization series.
  4. ExpanDrive 4 ($49.95) – Slick utility app.
  5. ProSoft Data Rescue 4 ($99.99) – Market leader in data recovery. This is the new version 4.
  6. AfterShot Pro 2 ($79.95) – A very solid photo editor, and the only app included that’s been in a bundle before.
  7. Typed ($24.95) – A new text editor that has gotten a lot of hype and acclaim out the gate.
  8. Snapselect ($24.99) – Handy new photo app from MacPhun.

In all, the value is almost $470, and with the coupon code “ULTRAMAC5″ 9to5 readers can grab it for $39.99 (91% off). This one will go really quick.

Apple reportedly terminated contract w/ Alabama lobbyist over his same-sex marriage opposition

Tim Cook Pride

Tim Cook’s Apple is no stranger to standing up for social issues including marriage equality.

Almost a year ago to date, the company—not just Tim Cook—voiced public opposition to anti-gay legislation in Arizona which was surprisingly vetoed after weeks of public attention. The company also embraced last year’s annual Pride parade in San Francisco with an official video highlighting participation by thousand of employees and family members. There’s also Tim Cook’s widely praised essay published last year in which he first publicly acknowledged being gay—a first for a Fortune 500 chief executive.

So when Apple realized it hired a former politician with a history of promoting anti-gay legislation to lobby on its behalf to the Alabama Congress, it’s no surprise that the company reportedly severed ties with the individual… Read more

Review: Speck’s CandyShell Grip + Inked offer ideal iPhone 6 Plus protection, funky looks

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I prefer to start iPhone case reviews with a photo showing the iPhone within a case, so you can immediately see how your device would look inside. For Speck’s new iPhone 6 Plus versions of the super-popular CandyShell, I’m doing something different, because the magic here is hidden inside the case. CandyShell’s one-piece, co-molded design — textured rubber inside with hard plastic outside — has been copied (and admired within the accessory industry) more than almost any case feature in the past five years. With military-grade drop protection and the ability to absorb scratches, CandyShells are the cases I’ve historically used to keep all of my personal iPhones in perfect shape, and I’ve loved them.

That changed with the iPhone 6 Plus. Until now, Speck didn’t have a plain old version of CandyShell available, so I switched over to Incipio’s thicker, steel-pinned Trestle. But Speck has just released CandyShell Inked for iPhone 6 Plus ($45, available for $37 and up based on color), joining the earlier CandyShell Grip for iPhone 6 Plus ($33 to $40, also color-dependent). Unlike the standard CandyShell, which still hasn’t been released for the iPhone 6 Plus, both of these cases are visually intense: Inked is offered in a handful of multi-colored versions, while the two-toned Grip adds extra rubber ridges to the back. If you’re looking for a super-protective and distinctive-looking case, one of these CandyShells should be at the top of your list.

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Rumor says Touch ID coming to MacBooks and Magic Mouse/Trackpad for Apple Pay, but there are roadblocks

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When Apple develops a new technology or feature for its hardware, it typically rolls it out on one product then expands it to the rest of the line. For example, Touch ID launched for the iPhone in 2013 and made its way to the iPad with the iPad Air 2 in 2014. For 2015, Touch ID may make its debut on the Mac, according to a rumor from website apple.club.tw. According to the blog, which published legitimate photos of iPad Air 2 Touch ID and A8X chip components last fall, Touch ID will come to Macs this year to enable Apple Pay functionality…

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Apple Pay China expansion reportedly stalled by ChinaUnion, regulators

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We learned last fall that Apple plans to bring Apple Pay to China by partnering with UnionPay. Code found within iOS pointed to Apple preparing its mobile payment service for China while MarketWatch reported Apple was working on a deal with the institution. Several months later, however, MarketWatch now reports that Apple is “struggling with its relationship with UnionPay,” adding that Apple has not yet established an agreement it hoped to reach by March. Read more

Apple granted patent for Google Cardboard/Samsung-Oculus style VR headset for iPhone

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Apple is about to go head-to-head with Google on smartwatches and also encroaching on Google’s territory with research into electric and possibly autonomous vehicles, but what about virtual reality? Today we get a look at yet another area in which Apple might compete with Google as the US Patent and Trademark office grants a patent to Apple for a Google Cardboard/Samsung-Oculus style VR headset for iPhone (via PatentlyApple). Read more