Apple said to be considering deal with Japan Display to help finance new factory

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A new report claims that Apple is in talks with Japan Display to help finance an LCD display factory in Ishikawa next year. The exact details of the agreement are still in flux, but Apple is said to be considering an investment of somewhere around 200 billion yen (or just under $1.7 billion).

The factory would churn out the same types of low-temperature polycrystalline silicon displays that are currently used in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Japanese news sources also say the factory could eventually be repurposed to build OLED panels like those found in the Apple Watch—and possibly in future iPhones. The factory’s output wouldn’t be exclusive to Apple’s devices, however, as the deal currently allows JDI to sell its wares to competitors.

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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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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

Opinion: Apple Pay is easier than swiping a card … until it’s not

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Apple unveiled its mobile payment service Apple Pay last September alongside the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch later rolling it out to new iPhone users in October through the free iOS 8.1 software update. Dozens of banks and credit unions have flipped the switch on Apple Pay since then as more merchants have announced support or plans to accept the new payment method.

Apple Pay, which allows users to securely pay in stores using the latest models of the iPhone simply by placing the smartphone near a special terminal, uses your existing credit or debit card without revealing personal information like your name or card number to merchants.

In practice, Apple Pay is a real delight to use as a payment method as it feels a bit like you’re skipping the payment process altogether; I imagine moving from cash and checks to debit and credit cards years ago felt similar. There’s still a social oddity about paying with your phone in many parts of the United States in 2015, though, which I’m not sure happened with the transition to using cards. Read more

The New Yorker profiles Jony Ive: details meeting Jobs, iPhone 6, Apple Watch, cars and more

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The New Yorker has published an extensive profile on Jony Ive, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Design. Many newspapers have written up articles on Ive in recent years, but this latest account by Ian Parker is by far the most detailed and (arguably) the most interesting, revealing new anecdotes and tidbits on Apple’s latest products in the process.

The story tracks how Jony arrived at Apple back in the late 90’s, how his relationship with Jobs developed over that period, and how he is adapting to ‘leading’ design in post-Jobs Apple. The piece includes some new details about how the Watch project and the newest iPhones formed, as well as incorporating quotes from Tim Cook, Bob Mansfield, and others.

Read on for some select excerpts from The New Yorker’s story.

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ESPN app overhauled w/ new look, iPhone 6/6+ & iPad support, more

ESPN is out with a brand new version of its iPhone app today adding native resolution support for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+ while also debuting on the iPad for the first time. The new app not only sports a new look right down to its icon, but ESPN says it “pulled a Puff Daddy and changed the name.” Previously, the app was branded as ESPN SportsCenter, but now it’s simply “ESPN”. Read more

Starbucks iPhone app updated w/ Apple Pay, enhanced menu, more

Apple announced Starbucks as an Apple Pay partner when it unveiled the mobile payment system last fall, and today the coffee chain is beginning to roll out support for Apple Pay through the latest version of its iPhone app.

While Starbucks does not yet accept Apple Pay in its brick-and-mortar stores, customers have long been able to pay with the iPhone app in stores using a digital Starbucks Card barcode scanned by a barista. Starting today, customers can load credit to a Starbucks Card within the app using Apple Pay as a payment method. Read more

Review: iBattz’ Refuel Invictus battery case lets you swap 3200mAh cells for 127% iPhone 6 charges

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Like most things, the title of “best iPhone 6 battery case” is subject to change whenever something new and great shows up to challenge existing options, and as the iPhone 6 is still young, we’re expecting a lot of jockeying for position over the next few months. The latest real contender comes from iBattz, maker of some of the best iPhone battery cases I’ve tested. Refuel Invictus for iPhone 6 ($100, aka Mojo Refuel Invictus) is the first iPhone 6 case to include a great feature from some earlier iPhone 4/4S and 5/5s cases: removable, replaceable batteries.

Using solely the items in its own box, Refuel Invictus delivered the largest recharge I’ve seen yet for the iPhone 6: 127%, or a full recharge plus an additional 27%. That might be enough to justify the asking price for some people. But you can also add a second battery and external USB charger for $25-$30 more. If you’ve been hunting for a slim battery case that can keep your iPhone running endlessly, this might be the most cost-effective way to do it.

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Live blog: Tim Cook at Goldman Sachs Tech Conference 2015

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As mentioned earlier today, Tim Cook is speaking momentarily at the 2015 Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference where his remarks will be live streamed, and below we’ll update with the latest from the Apple CEO. In previous years, Cook has used the platform to share insight about product performance including the Apple TV and tease future roadmaps as the CEO often does. Today’s appearance follows Apple’s record quarter for any company with more than $74 billion reported in revenue and over 74 million iPhones sold. Apple is also positioned to release the Apple Watch in April, Cook recently mentioned, so today’s remarks should be interesting. Read more

KGI: Apple to upgrade Touch ID sensor in next iPhone, expects over a quarter of a billion units in 2015

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KGI is out with a new report today predicting both a large rise in the number of Touch ID sensors shipped this year as well as an improved version of the biometric security reader for the next version of the iPhone. “We raise our 2015F shipments of Touch ID (fingerprint recognition) module by 12.4% to 262mn sets, up 77% YoY.” As for the updated Touch ID sensor, the improved version is believed to offer more reliable reads and better security as Apple continues to push Apple Pay, it’s recently launched mobile payment service: Read more

Apple threatens to ban iPhone, iPad accessory makers that design based on leaks

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Apple is working to step up the secrecy surrounding future iPhone and iPad models by targeting a frequent source of leaks: third-party accessory makers. 9to5Mac has learned that in fall 2014, just before the iPhone 6 launched, Apple demanded that a number of leading accessory makers sign agreements barring them from seeking out information about future Apple devices, according to four sources with first-hand knowledge of the matter.

On one hand, the agreement dangled the loss of “future business opportunities that Apple and/or its affiliates may present to you” as a potential consequence of violating or not signing the agreement. On the other hand, signing and following it could lead to months-long delays in making accessories like cases available, during the time of year when those cases were most needed and demanded by customers. Read more