Apple releases iOS 8.3 beta 2 for iPhone, iPad with new Emojis, new Apple TV beta OS

Screenshot 2015-02-23 13.04.27Two weeks following the first beta, Apple has released iOS 8.3 beta 2 to developers for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. As we reported upon the first beta, the upcoming release includes a Wireless CarPlay feature, a new Emoji picker, improved login for Google services, an updated voice for Siri, and support for Apple Pay in China. iOS 8.3 is coming later this year, and sources say that Apple will release a public beta of iOS 8.3 alongside the third beta in mid-March. Apple is also working on iOS 8.4 with a new streaming music service and iOS 9.0 with bug fixes and performance enhancements as a tentpole feature. iOS 8.2, which currently stands at beta 5, will be released in March. There won’t be additional developer betas, sources say. Apple today also released a second beta of OS X 10.10.3 with the new Photos app. We’ll keep updating this post as new features are found in the latest beta. Apple has also released a new beta OS for the Apple TV.

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Review: Truffol’s Intelli Classic iPhone 6 leather wallet case features RFID card protection

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Contactless credit and debit cards are only just starting to take off in the USA, but with Apple Pay driving merchants to introduce contactless payment terminals, you are increasingly likely to find that RFID symbol on your bank cards when you receive replacements.

We’ve had contactless cards in Europe for a few years now, and they’re even more convenient than Apple Pay for low-value transactions. For anything up to £30 ($46), you don’t need to verify the transaction in any way: just tap your card against the terminal. You can even do this without taking the card out of your wallet. (Bank guarantees protect you against fraudulent transactions.)

Convenient, that is, unless you have more than one contactless card in your wallet. This can either lead to the wrong card being debited or, more usually, cause the transaction to fail. Truffol has come up with an iPhone 6 wallet case specifically designed to solve this problem …  Read more

Report: Apple poaching Samsung engineers w/ chip & battery expertise

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While Apple has notably been engaged in a back-and-forth poaching war with electric vehicle maker Tesla in recent months, a new report from The Korea Times claims that Apple has also been targeting “experts in next-generation technology” from Samsung Electronics. Citing an anonymous official from Samsung, the report highlights that the iPhone maker has a history of picking off chip experts from the Korean company using competitive compensation and “greater independence” as engineers. Read more

Review: Lenmar’s Maven Battery Case for iPhone 6 streamlines a familiar design, offers 112% extra power

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Featured in our guide to the best Apple device batteries, the one-of-a-kind MacBook external battery pack ChugPlug demonstrated that Lenmar knows how to make unique accessories. By comparison, Lenmar’s new Maven Battery Case for iPhone 6 ($100) isn’t quite as distinctive. It’s basically a softer-curved and more powerful version of the company’s iPhone 5/5s battery case Meridian, which makes it extremely similar to numerous rival iPhone 6 battery cases I’ve tested from other companies.

But with four color options, the ability to refuel itself at 2-Amp speeds, and better button openings than certain lower-priced competitors, the 3,000mAh Maven does have some merits. Here’s a more detailed look at what makes this case blend in and stand out…

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New wider color-screen smartwatch appears on Pebble’s website

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Update: The image has been removed and replaced with the below image of an actual pebble… Oops?

We told you last week that Pebble is likely about to announce the next-generation of its smartwatch, featuring a thinner design, a color e-paper-like display, and a revamped OS. Now, thanks to an image hosted on Pebble’s own servers, we have a look at a device with a physical appearance matching the device we described. The device looks to have a larger bezel, as well as buttons that are smaller compared to its predecessor.

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Apple announces $1.9B European plan for two of the world’s largest, clean energy data centers

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Apple has announced that it will be spending €1.7B ($1.92B) on two new European data centers, each of which will be among the largest in the world at 166,000 square metres (1.8M square feet)–three times larger than the company’s North Carolina facility.

One will be in Ireland, the other in Denmark, with each set to begin operations in 2017. Apple says that the facilities will provide online services across Europe, including the iTunes Store, App Store, iMessage, Apple Maps and Siri.

We are grateful for Apple’s continued success in Europe and proud that our investment supports communities across the continent,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “This significant new investment represents Apple’s biggest project in Europe to date.”

As with all of Apple’s data centers around the world, the new centres will be powered entirely by clean, renewable energy …  Read more

Apple airs filmmaking iPad ad narrated by Martin Scorsese for the Oscars

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On the day of the annual Academy Awards ceremony, Apple has begun airing a new iPad Air advertisement highlighting how the tablet is used in the filmmaking industry. The new video advertisement is narrated with excerpts from notable movie director Martin Scorsese’s 2014 commencement speech at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. The video, embedded below, is accompanied by a website highlighting specific stories of the iPad being used to make movies. These video stories were actually filmed and edited on iPads. The new website also discusses key video planning, filming, and editing applications for the iPad such as Final Draft, Garageband (but not the consumer-focused iMovie), and VideoGrade. This film-focused advertisement follows a music-oriented one that aired on the day of the Grammy Awards.

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Apple Watch straps will be available to purchase separately at launch

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Despite speculation to the contrary, Apple does in fact plan to sell an array of bands as separate accessories for the Apple Watch at launch, according to sources. So far Apple has only shown the Watch in pre-assembled collections, which reduces their potential for customization, but our sources say that Apple’s retail outlets will be stocked on day one with individual straps so customers can easily mix and match the looks of their Watches.

While Apple has hinted at millions of combinations of Apple Watch when considering the various watch faces and interchangeable strap combos, up until now we’ve not had confirmation that straps would be available to purchase separately alongside the Apple Watch at launch. Read more

Opinion: If any Apple Watch will cost thousands of dollars, Apple needs to start telling that story

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Here’s a thought: Assume that the 18k gold Apple Watch Edition is several thousand dollars, as some people are currently predicting. How will Apple deliver that piece of news — which hasn’t officially been confirmed before, and remains the subject of increasingly wild speculation — to the public?

Depending on your perspective, a high price won’t be bad news for people who expect their jewelry to carry four- or five-digit price tags. But it’s going to be hard to explain why the Apple Watch Edition is priced so far apart from the entry level Apple Watch Sport… or most of Apple’s other products for that matter. Fake gold or not, golden iPhones starts at $99, and iPads at $399 or $499, just like non-gold ones.

While Apple has already started telling the story of what the Apple Watch will do for people that wear it, it has barely told the story on its own of how much it will cost and why. I believe that detail alone is worthy of a second Apple Watch event led by Tim Cook before the Watch hits the market in April. Read more