Some Genius Bars are being repurposed for the holidays, but other changes loom

Apple-Store-Amsterdam-genius-bar

As they’ve done in years’ past, some Apple retail stores this holiday season will repurpose the Genius Bar for additional product space, pick-ups, or other uses as Apple attempts to make the shopping experience for customers as smooth as possible, 9to5Mac has learned.

The repurposing for the holidays will only arrive in some stores depending on needs and traffic, with some stores scheduled to use the Genius Bar area to complete express sales and hold products scheduled for pick-up. Other changes, however, will go beyond the holidays as the stores under new retail chief Angela Ahrendts evolve to better deal with increased foot traffic. Read more

Production of next year’s A9 chip reportedly underway, Samsung may take 100% of orders

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Production by Samsung of the A9 chip destined for next year’s iPhones and iPads is underway, according to a report in Korea’s Electronic Times.

According to industry insiders on December 11, Samsung Electronics began production of Apple’s A9 in the Austin plant in the US using the 14nm FinFET technology. Samsung has production lines capable of FinFET process production in Austin, US and Giheung, Korea, but began to produce A9 only in Austin as it is in the initial stage.

It had been reported back in July that Samsung had received some orders for the chips, which the company effectively confirmed in October when the president of the company’s chip-making division said that profits would improve once it began supplying its latest-generation chips to Apple …

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Apple fast tracks CarPlay hardware development w/ official MFi specs for head units

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Apple’s new CarPlay iOS feature has recently arrived through a limited number of in-dash vehicle entertainment systems and aftermarket products, but Apple has now introduced official guidelines for companies building CarPlay hardware through its Made-for-iPhone/iPad/iPod (MFi) licensing program, according to sources.  Read more

Robinhood launches on App Store, brings zero-commission stock trading to the masses

Robinhood App

For several years, my grandmother has encouraged me to get involved with the stock market. While she was successful at persuading my older brother into investing in penny stocks, I have never taken the initiative to learn how the stock market truly works. For that reason, I was excited when I heard about a brand new app called Robinhood, which provides zero-commission stock trading at your fingertips.

While online brokers are nothing new, with existing firms such as Interactive Brokers and E-Trade, Robinhood is a mobile-first service that doesn’t require a desktop. Whether you are a twenty-something college student that doesn’t fully understand how the stock market functions, an experienced Wall Street stock trader, or fall somewhere in between, the app makes stock trading easier for the masses. Read more

Grab a big iOS App designer bundle (MSRP: over $1000) for only a few bucks

From 9to5Toys Specials:
Programming-classes-cheap

Specials.9to5toys.com is running a **special** on an iOS app designer bundle that up and coming iOS app designers will likely want to take advantage of.  This is an “NYOP bundle”, meaning that people can name their own price to get 2 courses (Learn Mobile Web Design Using Bootstrap & Learn To Build Cross Platform Apps). Or, if you beat the average price, you’ll get the entire bundle (7 courses & assets). This evening that is only a few bucks plus 10% goes to charity of your choice and high bidders get a chance to win a Gold iPad Air/ iPhone 6. The bundle includes:

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Sprint ‘iPhone for Life’ & ‘Easy Pay’ leasing/financing options coming to Apple Retail Stores

With the introduction of new iPhone financing options from wireless carriers, Apple has steadily been adding support in its stores for the latest payment options allowing customers to get an iPhone without paying the full price or even the $199 and up contract price.

Apple already supports financing plans from AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile either online, in its retail stores, or both, and 9to5Mac has learned that Apple is preparing to soon offer Sprint’s iPhone financing and leasing plans as well with support rolling out at some stores as soon as today. Read more

9to5 Guide: The best iPad, iPhone + MacBook battery cases/packs

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Earlier this week, I walked through a great collection of iPad, iPhone, and Mac products that I’d strongly recommend. Today, I’m here to help you choose an excellent spare battery for any portable Apple device. You can trust me because I’ve been testing Apple batteries for over a decade, conducting hours-long tests to learn how each new Apple device consumes power, and how quickly each battery replenishes a given device. If you want to learn more about why I’m recommending the specific batteries below, I discuss key factors worth considering at the bottom of this guide.

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Apple & IBM announce first batch of MobileFirst iOS apps for enterprise

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Following an announcement earlier this year that Apple was teaming up with IBM to deliver a number of enterprise solutions, today Apple has officially announced the first wave of iOS apps being released through the partnership. As part of IBM’s “MobileFirst for iOS,” Apple and IBM today announced 10 new apps designed specifically for businesses including banking, retail, insurance, financial services, telecommunications and for governments and airlines.

“This is a big step for iPhone and iPad in the enterprise, and we can’t wait to see the exciting new ways organizations will put iOS devices to work,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “The business world has gone mobile, and Apple and IBM are bringing together the world’s best technology with the smartest data and analytics to help businesses redefine how work gets done.”

The apps launching today through the partnership include Plan Flight and Passenger+ for the travel industry, Advise & Grow and Trusted Advice for the banking and financial industries, Retention (insurance), Case Advice and Incident Aware for government, Sales Assist and Pick & Pack for retail, and Expert Tech for telecommunications industries. Apple notes that the apps offer customizable experiences and are “managed and upgraded via cloud services from IBM specifically for iOS devices.”

In addition to the new apps, which Apple described in more detail in its press release below, Apple noted other services that will go hand-in-hand with the apps. Those include integration with IBM’s Mobile Platform and Enterprise solutions as well as AppleCare for the Enterprise, Apple’s new business specific tech support service introduced as part of the IBM deal.

Apple’s full press release is below:

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Apple releases iOS 8.1.2 with fixes for bugs including ringtone issues

iOS 8.1.2

Apple has released iOS 8.1.2 as an over-the-air software update for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users running iOS 8. The latest release contains bug fixes for users as well as a fix for a problem regarding ringtones purchased from Apple being removed from devices. We’ll check out the software release for any significant changes or issues and update accordingly. Read more

Gift guide: Premium headphones & earphones for the music lover in your life

Holiday Gift Guide 7

Apple makes great phones, tablets and computers; earphones not so much. The ones that come free with the iPhone look attractive, but they’re pretty much worth what you pay for them when it comes to sound quality.

Great sound, though, doesn’t come cheap, which is why a pair of premium headphones or earphones can make the perfect gift for someone who loves their music but perhaps doesn’t have the budget to really splash out on themselves.

If you’re buying for a musician, check out the more studio-oriented recommendations in our music gift guide. For those who will mostly use their headphones while on the move, read on …  Read more