iOS 8.1 beta includes “3x” images for iPad interface elements, possibly pointing to higher-res tablets

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More investigation into the newest beat of iOS 8.1 has revealed that the operating system contains 3x versions of some iPad UI elements. Triple-size elements are used by the new iPhone 6 Plus to maintain “Retina” quality on the larger display, and this change could indicate that a larger or higher-resolution iPad could be coming with next week’s announcement.

Like the new Apple Pay UI that was recently uncovered in this beta, the new assets were discovered by Hamza Sood and posted to Twitter:

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Apple opens the door for HomeKit accessory makers w/ finalized MFi specs

WWDC-Homekit-01Apple has now finalized and published specifications for HomeKit through its Made-For-iPhone/iPad/iPod (MFi) licensing program. The finalized specifications, which allow accessory makers to start building products that integrate iOS 8’s new framework for home automation devices, come ahead of Apple’s yearly MFi summit in November where it plans to brief manufacturing partners on HomeKit and other new iOS 8 features for accessories. Read more

‘It’s been way too long': Apple sends out invites for Thursday, October 16th iPad & Mac event

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It’s happening: Apple has just announced a keynote address for Thursday, October 16th to take place at the Town Hall auditorium on its Infinite Loop Campus in Cupertino, California. Invitations to select members of the media and special guests indicate that the event will, as always, begin at 10 AM Pacific time/1 PM Eastern Time. News of the October 16th date broke last week. We’ll be providing full, live coverage on 9to5Mac.com of the event’s proceedings. Here’s everything we’re expecting Apple to discuss at the event:

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Chromecast iOS app updated w/ backdrop feature for viewing news & weather, photos, more

Google today updated the Chromecast app for iPhone and iPad users adding a feature announced earlier this year at Google I/O called Backdrop. When the Chromecast HDMI streaming stick isn’t playing content like Netflix or Pandora Radio through your TV, it already displays the current time and featured photos as a screen saver, but now Chromecast users can display additional content like weather conditions and news headlines on Chromecast-connected TVs. Chromecast also now supports using your own photos from Google+ albums as the backdrop. Read more

Apple says GTAT bankruptcy was a ‘surprising decision’ and will ‘focus on preserving jobs’

tim cook death stare

Apple has now officially commented on the startling announcement that sapphire supplier GTAT will file for bankruptcy. Like most observers, Apple was “surprised” by the move. Apple told the Wall Street Journal:

In its first comments since GT’s Chapter 11 filing Monday, Apple said, “We are focused on preserving jobs in Arizona following GT’s surprising decision and we will continue to work with state and local officials as we consider our next steps.”

Wall Street Journal sources indicate that GTAT was forced into financial distress because Apple withheld the final tranche payment of its contract, totally $139 million. Apparently, the sapphire supplier did not meet the agreed terms so Apple exerted its contractual right to withdraw. From the statement, it seems that Apple did not expect the consequential ramification of bankruptcy, however.

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Fitbit says it has no current plans for iOS 8 Health app integration

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Fitbit, makers of popular fitness tracking wearables and apps, has confirmed it currently has no plans to support Apple’s new iOS 8 Health app. After a bit of a delayed launch last month, a long list of developers have rushed to integrate support for HealthKit, Apple’s new frameworks that allow developers to share and tap into data from one central location on the user’s device: the new Health app in iOS 8. Fitbit, however, has confirmed in a few responses on its customer forums that it isn’t working on integration much to the frustration of its users that have been awaiting an update: Read more

Vietnamese blog leaks iPad Air 2 pictures showing thinner chassis, Touch ID, missing mute switch

Vietnamese blog Tinhte.vn has pictures claiming to show the design of the new iPad Air, likely a dummy unit which acts as a reasonable portrayal of the device’s characteristics. Shown in white, the device is reportedley only 7 mm thin. This is almost the same depth as Apple’s latest iPhones, which measure 6.9 mm and 7.1 mm thin. As such, it also features the same recessed volume button style as the iPhone 6.

The leaks show the next generation iPad to be mostly identical to the current iPad Air, but with some notable changes. Aside from thinness, the iPad now features a ‘glass’ (likely sapphire) Touch ID home button to match previous rumors. Interestingly, the side shots of the device appear to lack a mute switch.

The blog speculates this was for space-saving reasons, meaning the mute switch (which can also be a rotation lock) was sacrificed in order for Apple to attain the desired thinness. Video below.

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KGI: GTAT bankruptcy unlikely to have impact on Apple Watch, future of sapphire iPhones uncertain

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KGI has published a new report clarifying that the recent announcement that Apple’s sapphire supplier had filed for bankruptcy will likely have no impact on the production of the comapny’s sapphire display-equipped wearable. According to KGI, GT was mainly contracted to create the sapphire crystal displays for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

The reason Apple partnered with GT Advanced on the iPhone displays was related to the size of the screens. Because GT was the best equipped to manufacture a display the size of the new iPhone models. However, because the Apple Watch uses a smaller display, other companies are able to produce the covers as easily as GT. This is also why the Touch ID sensor and iPhone cameras, which both use a sapphire lens, will also be unaffected.

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Apple Pay setup screen appears in modified version of iOS 8.1 beta 2

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Just in case there hadn’t already been enough evidence of Apple Pay support coming to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in the iOS 8.1 update, the second beta of the operating system, which was released earlier today, contains the setup screen for the system. The change isn’t visible to most users right now, but Hamad Sood been able to make it appear:

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More details on GT Advanced bankruptcy come to light: Apple withheld $139 million, GT CEO unloaded stock

Mesa-Arizona

Apple’s sapphire processing plant in Mesa, AZ

The Wall Street Journal has cast some more light on recent reports that Apple’s sapphire supplier had declared bankruptcy earlier this week. According to the Journal’s report, Apple withheld a payment of $139 million from GT Advanced, though currently there’s no indication of why this decision was made.

In another interesting revelation, the Journal also discovered that the CEO of GT Advanced, Thomas Gutierrez, unloaded all of his stock in the company in a sale just one day before the iPhone 6 was unveiled. The device was widely expected to use sapphire supplied by GT for its displays. GT Advanced had enjoyed a rising stock price that had nearly doubled since initial rumors of a collaboration on the iPhone 6 started swirling.

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Apple posts ‘how to build an iOS app in Swift’ video on developer blog

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Apple drew a lot of attention earlier this year when it debuted its own blog dedicated to updating developers on Swift, its programming language for building Mac and iOS apps first introduced at WWDC in June. The blog has since been used to share updates on the state of Swift as well as technical details about the programming language, but today Apple posted an official video tutorial (embedded below) targeted for new Swift developers on using the language and Xcode to build an app for iOS from scratch. Read more