WSJ: Apple considering adding USB 3.0 ports & mouse input support to larger iPad model

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Following up on today’s report that the 12.9-inch iPad has been pushed back to September, the Wall Street Journal claims tonight that the hardware features for the device are still in flux. According to this latest rumor, Apple is considering adding USB 3.0 ports to the tablet to allow users to connect external devices.

We’ve already heard that the company may be planning to build its first external input device for the “iPad Pro,” but this is the first time we’ve heard that there may be plans in the works to support the connection of additional peripherals.

As unbelievable as it seems, the report even suggests that Apple will allow the connection of mice and keyboards.

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Bloomberg: Apple pushes back 12.9-inch iPad Pro production to September

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The 12.9-inch “iPad Pro” that was expected to make its first public appearance around April before being pushed back to Q2 has been postponed yet again, a new Bloomberg report says. The new release date is reportedly some time in September, right around the next-gen iPhone launch.

This delay is said to be the result of display panel supply problems…

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‘Spring forward’ banners start going up at Yerba Buena ahead of March 9 event

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The banners for the Spring Forward Apple event have started going up at Yerba Buena, in preparation for March 9th. As is usual, the display mirrors the logo and patterns seen on the event invite sent last week. Apple has already been setting up an outdoor structure behind the venue, which will likely become the demo area for press when the event is over.

More pics below (we’ll update as the workers fill in the banner)  …

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Next iPhone rumored to (unsurprisingly) feature 2 GB of RAM, Force Touch, Apple SIM

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AppleInsider is reporting that it has received information about the next-generation iPhone hardware. It claims that the next iPhone, generally expected to be a ‘6s’ style device (meaning that it will feature internal changes but the external chassis will be the same as the 6), will feature 2 GB of RAM, just like the A8X in the iPad Air 2. It also says that Apple is considering inclusion of an Apple SIM as standard, just like the cellular iPads.

For some context, the iPhone first shipped with 1 GB of RAM in 2012 with the iPhone 5. This means a RAM jump is now about ‘due’, with many expecting an increase last year to help accommodate the increased asset size required by the Retina HD iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

Although 9to5Mac cannot directly backup the claims, the advancements feel like an obvious progression for the device given Apple’s inclusion of 2 GB of RAM in the iPad Air 2 as well as the introduction of the Apple SIM last fall. Note also that Apple has doubled RAM every few generations of iPhone, and given that many were expecting an increase last cycle, it is not surprising to see it rumored for the ‘iPhone 6s’, which is likely to feature new and improved internals like other ‘tock’ years.

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Apple Watch’s retail sales pitch revealed: 3 key features, switch to iPhone, focus on bands

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With next week’s Apple Watch event fast approaching, Apple has revealed its retail selling strategies to employees, including a focus on “three key features” and a plan to encourage Watch customers to upgrade or switch to new iPhones. According to selling guidelines provided by sources within Apple Retail, Apple believes that “many customers have already decided they want an Apple Watch,” and will use the Watch to “position the benefits” of purchasing a compatible iPhone model. Retail employees have been told to ask customers about their iPhone usage habits, their favorite feature in iOS 8, and if they use health and fitness software on their iPhone…

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Review: Anker’s Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2 brings reasonable pricing and smart design to Bluetooth typing folios

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I’ve tested almost every major iPad keyboard case since the first iPad was released five years ago, and still recall when companies charged $100 for greasy vinyl folios with terrible, squishy rubber keys. Thankfully, a lot has changed since then. If you’re willing to spend $100, you can get a much nicer iPad-holding case attached to a nearly great keyboard. Drop $130-$150 (or go nuts for $170), and you can get a metal keyboard that partially resembles a MacBook Air. Personally, $100 is the ceiling I’d ever be willing to pay for an iPad keyboard case, and I’d rather pay less. But unless you count discontinued models for prior-generation iPads, there aren’t many great options.

Anker is changing that. Its new Bluetooth Folio Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2 sells for a stunningly low $40, and just like the 25,600mAh Anker iPad battery pack I previously reviewed, it delivers remarkable value for its price point. As the product of strategic compromises, it winds up giving up only one thing I typically prefer — a complete iPad-holding frame — in order to offer an excellent typing experience for the same cost as a typical iPad case without a keyboard. Read on for the reasons why I’d recommend this over options costing three times the price.

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Gartner: iPhone worldwide sales topped Samsung in holiday quarter, but Samsung won the year

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Gartner is out with its latest report tracking smartphone movement during the previous year and more specifically the holiday quarter.

Headlining the report is news that over 1 billion smartphones were sold in 2014, a data point IDC first said was hit in the previous year, adding that two out of three phones sold last year qualified as smartphones.

Gartner’s data shows Apple topped Samsung in worldwide smartphone sales with 74,832,000 units shipped during the holiday quarter, just 1.8 million units more than Samsung, giving Apple 20.4% market share for the quarter, a virtual tie with Samsung’s 19.9%. Read more

Apple hanging billboards on skyscrapers and buildings around the world to showcase iPhone 6 photography

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As part of its Shot on iPhone 6 campaign promoting iPhone photography, Apple is now hanging billboard advertisements around the world. The ads feature the photographs in full bleed with a simple ‘Shot on iPhone 6′ tagline. The posters are going up around the world, including some dramatic large billboards on the side of skyscrapers. Pictured above is one such poster (photo taken by Jimmy Grewal on Twitter) being setup on a skyscraper in Dubai.

In total, the campaign will showcase 77 different individual’s images spanning 24 countries. Users on Twitter have been posting sightings of these ads from all over the world …

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Apple Stores will now allow customers to test in-ear headphones before buying

Apple has always allowed customers to test over-ear headphones

Apple has always allowed customers to test over-ear headphones (Getty)

Apple will begin allowing prospective customers to test out in-ear headphones prior to purchase within Apple Stores, according to several employees. Due to sanitation concerns, Apple has been reluctant to allowing customers to try out in-ear headphones, but a new solution called Demo Kits will solve this problem. Beginning this week, when a customer is interested in purchasing in-ear headphones, an Apple Store employee will have the ability to create a custom Demo Kit that holds up to six different models of in-ear headphones. These kits will include a fresh pair ear tips and alcohol cleaning wipes so that the try on process is sanitary…

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Review: CM4’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Q Card Cases are high-class wallets at affordable prices

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Our editors all have their favorite wallet cases for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus: Seth’s top pick is Pad & Quill’s Little Pocket Book, Ben’s fondest of Mujjo’s Leather Wallet Case, and up until now, my pick — based more on material quality than practicality — has been Twelve South’s BookBook. Each of these cases picks up where Apple Pay leaves off, carrying a handful of credit cards and a little cash for the (still numerous) times when wireless payments aren’t an option. But most of the cases haven’t properly balanced practicality and protection.

That’s where CM4’s Q Card Cases for iPhone 6 ($32-$40 at Amazon) and iPhone 6 Plus ($32-$40 at Amazon) come in. Their MSRPs are tied with the most affordable wallet cases I’ve previously seen for the new iPhones, combining the slim protectiveness of a TPU iPhone case with the look and feel of a leather wallet. While the standard $40 cases use realistic-looking faux leathers, CM4’s Limited Edition versions use genuine leather and pack-in simple plastic screen protectors for $60 each (iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus). Below, you’ll see why it’s hard to go wrong with any of the Q Card Cases…

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Review: Anker’s 2nd Gen Astro E7 triples any iPad Air’s run time with an insane 25,600mAh of power

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There are hundreds of external battery packs out there, and most of them are highly similar to one another: cosmetics aside, their capacities, features, and pricing tend to be predictable. Anker’s 2nd Gen Astro E7 ($80) is a complete outlier. It has the highest capacity of any external battery pack I’ve ever tested, yet it’s priced competitively with products that deliver half as much juice.

If you have an iPad or plan to carry your iPhone around without access to wall power, Astro E7 is as close to a must-have battery as I’ve seen. Delivered in efficiently designed, eco-friendly packaging, it quickly earned a place in my personal travel bag, for reasons I’ll explain below.

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NYT: Apple Watch includes ‘Power Reserve’ mode, shows only the time but conserves battery life

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The New York Times has published a piece about the culmination of the Watch project, as Apple transitions from product development stages to production and marketing to consumers. The piece reiterates that Apple was working on a vast array of health tracking sensors that were later dropped, which 9to5Mac covered extensively at the time.

However, the post includes one new piece of information about a previously-unannounced mode called ‘Power Reserve’. According to the report, users will be to enable a special low-power state that conserves battery life. In this mode, users will be able to see the time but cannot interact with the ‘smarter’ watch features like other apps. It is likely that other power-sapping features, like the constant connection to an iPhone for notifications, will also be disabled in this mode…

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