Apple’s growing presence in Israel geared to chip design, suggests WSJ

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The WSJ is suggesting that Apple’s growing presence in Israel is focused on expanding the company’s chip design capabilities, reporting that it has hired most of the local employees of a chip design company shut down by Texas Instruments and is advertising new positions in silicon and semiconductor design.

“Apple’s Israeli acquisitions and its expanding local workforce show that the company is becoming more and more independent on the chip level, where it once had to rely on external suppliers,” said Shlomo Gradman, chairman of the Israeli Semiconductor Club.

While the report contains more speculation than hard fact, we noted yesterday that Tim Cook–who is currently visiting the country–is accompanied by Johny Srouji, whose bio on the Apple website says that he “leads all custom silicon architecture and development” …

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Tim Cook: Apple Watch will be showerproof, Apple Pay goal for Europe is “end of the year”

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French site iGen is reporting that Tim Cook told an employee in the Kurfürstendamm Apple Store in Berlin that he wears his Apple Watch all the time–”even in the shower.” While Apple has previously mentioned water-resistance, and stated that the S1 innards are “completely encapsulated in resin,” this is the first time we’ve had a specific indication on what that means in practice.

In line with expectations that the watch will only have one day of battery-life, Cook confirmed that he removes it every night to charge …  Read more

Opinion: Does the Apple Watch Edition signal future luxury-model iPhones, iPads and Macs?

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Back in April of last year, when a luxury model of the Apple Watch was still a vague rumor, I wrote an opinion piece in which I expressed the view that Apple could indeed pull this off. I went further, and suggested that it could even create an entire range of luxury versions of its existing products, from iPhones to Macs.

Ten months on, with the Apple Watch Edition now real, and the general expectation that it’s going to cost several thousand dollars at least, I thought it was time to revisit that idea. Is a luxury model of the Apple Watch a one-off, or does Apple see this as the first step toward Edition models of its complete product range … ?  Read more

On what would have been Steve’s 60th birthday, imagine an Apple where he’s still in charge

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Almost everything Apple has done since the unfortunate passing of Steve Jobs has been met with comments about what the company would or wouldn’t have done had Steve still been here – even though his marching orders for Tim Cook were to never ask what he would have done.

But things certainly would have been different. The flattened user-interface of iOS 7 versus the skeuomorphic approach of the Jobs era. Would have it have happened at all? Would he have stopped it going quite so far? Would Apple have gone in a different direction.

What about an Apple Television? Steve said years ago that he “finally cracked it,” suggesting that he had a design and user-interface he was happy with. If the hold-up now is the content, would Steve have been able to bulldoze through the necessary deals to have launched it by now … ?  Read more

Supporting payment infrastructure for Apple Pay will be in place in Europe by mid-April

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Visa Europe has announced that its European contactless payment terminals will support the tokenization service used by Apple Pay by mid-April. This would allow Apple to introduce Apple Pay to Europe anytime from this point on. MasterCard has advised us that it already supports tokenisation globally.

Tokenisation technology will be at the heart of new mobile payment solutions and has been hailed as one of the best data protection and fraud prevention methods available. The new service will be available for financial institutions [in Europe] from mid-April 2015.

Although Europe has had contactless payment cards for several years, these currently transmit the actual card details to the terminal. Apple Pay, in contrast, transmits single-use codes which card companies can map back to the actual card, a functionality currently only available on the Visa network in the USA. As of mid-April, that functionality will be available in Europe too …  Read more

Siri learns Russian, Danish, Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish, Thai and Turkish for iOS 8.3 beta 2

In addition to Wireless CarPlay, more diverse Emojis, and improved logging in for Google services, iOS 8.3 adds a major new feature: several new languages for Siri. Over three years following the initial Siri beta in 2011, iOS 8.3 adds support for the following languages in Siri: Russian, Danish, Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, and English for India…

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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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Opinion: What we can expect from an Apple Car if it really goes on sale in 2020

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What a difference a couple of weeks can make. We knew on February 5th that Apple was offering quarter-million dollar signing bonuses to Tesla engineers to persuade them to jump ship, but the idea that the company planned to make a car was just a vague rumor. Fast-forward a fortnight and it’s now being treated as established fact.

Our own exclusive reporting on the sheer range of automotive hires by Apple makes it clear that the company is, at the very least, seriously investigating the possibility, with a 1,000-strong team reportedly approved by Tim Cook. And while we need to bear in mind the cautionary note in Seth Weintraub’s piece that there’s a big difference between an R&D project and a real, live product, at this stage an Apple car seems more likely than not.

But if Bloomberg is right that Apple plans to launch a car by 2020, I think it’s important to recognize what form that car will and won’t take (spoiler: it won’t look like the above) …  Read more

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

Photoshop celebrates 25th anniversary today of app originally created on a Macintosh Plus

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Adobe is today celebrating the 25th anniversary of Photoshop, which first launched as a Mac-only app on 19th February 1990.

What went on to become the industry standard image editing app started life in 1987, when Thomas Knoll, a computer vision doctorate student at the University of Michigan, began developing it on his Mac Plus. Known then as Display, the app was designed to do nothing more than display grayscale images on the Macintosh’s black-and-white monitor. As Adobe showcases in the video below, the app has come rather a long way since then …  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