About the Author

Jordan Kahn

@JordanKahn

Senior Editor

9to5Mac / 9to5Google / 9to5Toys / Electrek.co

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac. He covers Google for 9to5Google.com, the best gadgets and deals on 9to5Toys.com, and delivers a weekly roundup of EV and solar news on Electrek.co. He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s weekly Logic Pros series covering music making with Apple devices and makes music as one half of Toronto-based Makamachine.

Contact Jordan with news tips and long-winded complaints:  

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November 18, 2013

Report profiles Apple’s pioneering clean energy projects in North Carolina [photos]

GigaOM today published a lengthy piece on the state of the solar and fuel cell farm installations that Apple has been building in North Carolina in recent years.

After a visit to the 100-acre, 20 megawatt (MW) solar farm, 10MW fuel cell farm, and another 20 MW solar panel farm situated close to Apple’s North Carolina iCloud data center, the report gives a pretty in-depth look into Apple’s operations, from how its fuel cells work right down to the sheep that eat the grass on its solar farm:

The solar farm across from the data center has over 50,000 panels on 100 acres, and it took about a year to build the entire thing….Each solar panel on Apple’s farms has a microcontroller on its back, and the panels are attached to long, large trackers (the steel poles in the picture). During the day, the computers automatically and gradually tilt the solar panels so that the face of the panels follow the sun throughout the day. The above picture was taken in the late morning, so by the end of the day, the panels will have completely rotated to face where I was standing. The trackers used are single-axis trackers, which basically means they are less complex and less expensive than more precise dual-axis trackers.

You can see in the above picture that the grass is neatly maintained. Apple manages the grass under the panels in a variety of ways, but one of those is a little more unusual. Apple works with a company that ropes in sheep that eat the grass on a portion of the solar farm; when the sheep finish grazing on one spot, they’re moved to the next.

The site decided to take a look into Apple’s decision to take renewable energy into its own hands just as North Carolina utility Duke Energy is requesting that the state allow it to sell clean energy to large corporate customers. Google is one of the large companies interested in purchasing clean energy from the utility, but the hundreds of millions Apple has invested into its own renewable energy efforts have so far made it self-sufficient. The report notes Apple’s two solar farms, along with its fuel cell farm, are producing more than it needs to power its data center by around 10MW:

Apple’s second 20 MW solar panel farm, which is about 15 miles away from the data center near the town of Conover, North Carolina, is also up and running. All told, the three facilities are creating 50 MW of power, which is about 10 MW more than what Apple’s data center uses. Because of state laws, the energy is being pumped into the power grid, and Apple then uses the energy it needs from the grid. But this setup also means Apple doesn’t need large batteries, or other forms of energy storage, to keep the power going when the sun goes down and its solar panels stop producing electricity.

The full feature on GigaOM is worth checking out if you’re interested in Apple’s renewable energy projects.

Best Buy & Sprint giving students 12 months free talk, text & 1GB of data w/ new iPhone

From 9to5Toys.com:

BestBuy and Sprint are offering a truly rare deal for students leading into the holidays this year. Starting today, students in the US that purchase a smartphone from BestBuy will be able to get 12 months of free talk, text, and data for 12 months. You’ll have to pick up an eligible Student Activated Price device in-store with an Unlimited, My Way plan, but that won’t require a contract and there are plenty of great phones to choose from.

You’ll pay a little more for BestBuy’s student pricing. For example, $699 for a 16GB iPhone 5s or $599 for a Moto X, but the free year of service (normally $70/month) will still save you a ton of money by the end of the first year. There will also be a $36 activation fee per line.

In addition, Best Buy is offering an additional 12 months of free service by adding another phone line to the same account on a two-year contract.

After your free year of service is up you’ll have to cancel your service or hand over the $70/month that the My Way unlimited plan with 1GB of data normally goes for. The deal will be available in BestBuy stores until January 4.

November 14, 2013

Back at Apple’s October 22nd iPad Air event, the company also unveiled an update to its iWork for iCloud online productivity suite beta that included new real-time collaboration features, easier sharing, and more. The ability to collaborate went live initially, but today Apple is rolling a handful of other new features to the Pages, Numbers, and Keynote iWork for iCloud apps.

New features going live today include a new list to view all collaborators currently working on a project, as well as “cursors and selections” for each person editing a document, presentation, or spreadsheet. Apple also notes that you can now “Instantly jump to a collaborator’s cursor by clicking their name in the collaborator list.”

In addition, all apps today receive new folders to organize files, the ability to print from the Tools menu, and the Keynote app gets right-click to skip slides.

You can check out the new features in the Numbers, Pages, and Keynote app on iCloud.com now. Full list of what’s new below: expand full story

Gmail iOS app updated with iOS 7 design tweaks, full-screen compose on iPad, & more

Google today is releasing a pretty big update to its Gmail app that on top of introducing tweaked visuals for iOS 7 also includes a handful of new features for iPad.

The iPhone app appears to have received a few tweaks including a slightly redesigned side navigation bar, but the majority of the UI changes are most noticeable in the iPad app. It receives a slimmed down navigation bar on the left that lets users switch between accounts and inboxes in landscape view, as well as new full-screen moss for messages in portrait an composing new emails. Google also says the updated iPad app includes “better scrolling.”

If you hold your iPad in landscape mode, you’ll immediately notice the new left hand navigation bar, which allows you to quickly switch between inbox categories, or between multiple accounts, with a single tap. To help you get through your email faster, you’ll also see a new message counter for each category.

Version 2.7182 of the Gmail iOS app is available on the App Store now.

What’s New in Version 2.7182

iPhone & iPad: Visual update for iOS 7

iPad: Major Update – New navigation bar to switch between categories and accounts in landscape – Full screen view of your messages in portrait – Better scrolling – Compose new messages in full screen

November 13, 2013

Dropbox today announced some big upcoming changes to Dropbox for Business, its paid enterprise offering that provides accounts for multiple users and enhanced security, support, and team management features. The big new feature is the ability to connect your business account to your personal account and use both simultaneously (pictured above), but the screenshots of an upcoming iOS 7 redesign for Dropbox is what really caught our eye.

Above is the image posted to Dropbox’s blog today showing a completely redesigned iOS app. It looks a lot like a couple images that we’ve got our hands on of the upcoming redesign. Head below for two more shots: expand full story

After a judge in March invalidated almost half of the $1B verdict Apple won in its patent infringement case against Samsung in August of 2012, another trial would have to take place to determine how much Samsung would actually owe. It still owes Apple the other approximately $600 million in damages pending an appeal, but today the two companies are in court for a retrial to determine how much of the other roughly $400 million in damages Samsung will be responsible for. CNET reports that Apple’s attorney today told the court it wants $380 million in damages from Samsung, slightly less than the original $410 million in vacated damages:

“We will hear a lot from Samsung, saying no one would have purchased Apple products,” McElhinny said. “But in its heart, Samsung knew it was a two-horse race.”

He pointed to an internal Samsung document as “conclusive evidence Apple lost sales because of Samsung.”

“In a fair fight, that money should have gone to Apple,” McElhinny said.

The $380 million number comes from Apple’s calculations of around $114 million in lost profits, $231 in Samsung’s profits, and $35 million in royalties. Apple says Samsung made around $3.5 billion revenue selling 10.7 million infringing devices. expand full story

According to a report from Reuters, Apple is apparently under investigation in Italy related to unpaid taxes on more than $1.34 billion. The report quotes a “a judicial source with direct knowledge of the matter” and noted that the investigation is currently underway with authorities in Milan.

Milan prosecutors say Apple failed to declare to Italian tax authorities 206 million euros in 2010 and 853 million euros in 2011, one of the sources said, confirming a report by Italian magazine L’Espresso.

“The Apple investigation is under way,” the judicial source said on Wednesday, without giving details.

Reuters notes that Italian authorities in June handed down prison sentences and hundreds of million in fines for unpaid taxes to fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana.

expand full story

Get 75% off BioShock Infinite for Mac from 9to5Toys & GameAgent

9to5Toys.com:

If I could only make one game recommendation for Mac users, at the moment it would have to be BioShock Infinite. The game received amazing reviews from critics on the consoles and our friends at Aspyr quickly followed up with a flawless Mac version back in August. If you’ve yet to pick up a copy, you now officially have no excuse: GameAgent and 9to5Toys are offering BioShock Infinite for Mac for 75% off from now until Sunday. 

That means you’ll get BioShock Infinite for $10 instead of the usual $40, and we’re also throwing in the $4.99 Columbia’s Finest DLC for free. Best price on Amazon: $31

On top of that, GameAgent is giving away some crazy prizes to celebrate its brand new site redesign. The new site has a “Mac Match” feature that lets you setup profiles for your Macs to easily find supported content, and also a new Wish List feature to get automatic deal alerts when games you’re interested in go on sale.

Go create an account on GameAgent.com and make sure to put a name and legit email when completing the contest entry page to win a fully loaded 27-inch iMac with a 3.4GHz Quad-core Intel Core i5, 16GB of RAM, 1TB drive, and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M 4GB GDDR5 graphics. It will also come loaded with every BioShock, COD, Duke Nukem, Quake 4, Civilization and Star Wars title GameAgent sells, along with a long list of other titles and DLC, and there are many other prizes too. Full details of the contest rules can be read here (contest rules).

To get your 75% off BioShock Infinite, click here and enter promo code “9to5Mac” at checkout. Deal expires 11:59pm CST, Sunday, November 17. Note: BioShock Infinite through GameAgent is the Mac version of the game and authenticates on Steam.

GameAgent also announced the release of the BioShock Burial at Sea- Episode 1 DLC yesterday with a same day release as the PC title.

Update: GameAgent ran into some “inventory issues” because so many of you are trying to take advantage of this awesome deal. Everything is sorted now and the deal is still live, but if you ran into issues, GameAgent will sort you out:

Update 2: The deal site PC gamer spambots have officially ruined the fun for everyone. GameAgent had to shut the deal down due to a high amount of fraud from bots eating up all the inventory on the deal code. We’re working with GameAgent to bring the deal back. Stay tuned.

Retina iPad mini orders from Apple arriving as early as Nov. 15

Update: Some 9to5 readers in the UK report an estimated delivery date of Nov. 15th.

Many online orders for the Retina iPad mini have yet to ship, but today a large number of users have now received delivery estimates from Apple and UPS. At least in the US, 9to5 readers report their Retina iPad mini orders will be arriving as early as Monday, Nov. 18. That’s the earliest estimate from UPS, but Apple is also quoting a Nov. 21st delivery date for many day-one iPad mini orders. Shipping times from Apple remain at 1-3 or 5-10 business days for all models of the device in all launch countries, but word has it supplies could be tight leading into the holidays.

Motorola says new Moto G outperforms iPhone 5s display at a third the price

Motorola is hosting a live stream as we speak to announce its new Moto G smartphone, which was rumored to be a slightly lower cost follow up to its flagship Moto X launched earlier this year. At just $179 for the 8GB model of the Moto G off contract, Motorola is strongly positioning the colorful device as a competitor to the iPhone 5c, and it made a point of comparing the devices during its presentation today. While mentioning several times that the Moto G is a third of the price of the iPhone, it also presented the slide above noting that the Moto G “outperforms the most popular smartphone” by beating out the iPhone 5s display in both screen size and resolution.

The other specs might not be anything to brag about, but with really aggressive pricing and colorful replaceable backplates, Motorola could have a serious iPhone 5c competitor on its hand.

Report: Apple’s iWatch will come in 1.3″ & 1.7″ models to accommodate men & women wrist sizes

DisplaySearch has a bit of a hit and miss track record when it comes to Apple product launches. The research firm often lands itself square in the analyst category with some pretty out there predictions of  12-inch MacBooks and 65-inch 4K Apple TVs, and today it adds yet another to the list by claiming at a press conference in Taiwan today Apple is planning 1.7-inch and 1.3-inch models of its rumored iWatch. The KoreaHerald reports that DisplaySearch’s David Hsieh claims the various OLED display sizes will be to accommodate the differences in male and female wrist sizes. The report adds that Apple has put its TV efforts on hold to work on the wearables:

“It appears that Apple’s long-rumored TV plans, which were far from concrete anyway, have been put on hold again, possibly to be replaced by a rollout of wearable devices.”

Keep in mind DisplaySearch has changed its prediction since its report last month: It previously predicted 1.3 and 1.63inch models.

According to DisplaySearch, that means any Apple TV plans for the second half of next year have now been delayed.

While we can’t confirm any of DisplaySearch’s info from its report today, Apple is indeed experimenting with wearables. Earlier this year we reported that the product was currently being developed by a team of Apple executives, sensor, and fitness experts.

November 12, 2013

Concept imagines a much needed redesign of Apple’s Messages app for OS X

It’s no secret that Messages on OS X, Apple’s IM app that’s integrated with its iMessage service on iOS devices, has long been a frustration for users. The app has received a name change and slightly new look since the iChat days, but it hasn’t improved much in terms of functionality or reliability– some would say it’s gotten worse. While many of you would probably settle for a Messages app that simply works reliably, app developer Denis Pakhaliuk just sent over his concept of a completely revamped Messaging app for OS X.

On top of a redesigned UI that implements “Smart Colors” and some iOS 7-style translucency, the concept imagines a Messages app with much needed filter and sync features, truly instant sync between devices, new indicators for statuses, media uploads, and more.

Head below for the full gallery:

With permission from Apple, The Computer History Museum and the Digibarn Computer Museum announced today it is publishing the original DOS source code for Apple’s 1978 Apple II. The Apple II was the first fully assembled computer with a monitor that Apple sold following the Apple I and originally retailed for $1298 for the base model with just 4K of memory.

A blog post from The History Computer Museum explains that Apple contracted Paul Laughton of Shepardson Microsystems to write the Disk Operating System for the Apple II in just seven weeks. In April of 78, Steve Jobs and Shepardson signed a contract (pictured below) that would see Apple pay $13,000 for a file manager, a BASIC interface, and utilities. The source code being released today is scans of original documents that Laughton kept over the last 30+ years: expand full story

November 11, 2013

globalfoundries-logoA report from Times Union newspaper today claims Apple could be looking to GlobalFoundries to make chips for the iPhone and iPad at its “Fab 8” plant in Malta, New York (via MacRumors). It’s unclear if the move would be to reduce its dependence on Samsung, its current manufacturing partner for the iPhone and iPad system-on-a-chip, but Times Union says Samsung will go to Fab 8 at least initially to assist GlobalFoundries in preparing to build the chips:

Samsung Electronics, which currently makes the logic microprocessors used in Apple’s popular iPhone and iPad devices at its Austin, Texas fab, will help with the start-up of the Apple program, ensuring that Apple will have a second U.S. source for chips for the popular smart phones and tablets. Logic chips are the workhorse chips that are essentially the brains of a smart phone… It’s unclear if  GlobalFoundries will be making the chips with Samsung as the customer on behalf of Apple, or if Apple will be the direct customer, with Samsung helping set up the operation to mirror what it does in Austin. Either way, Apple will be the ultimate customer.

There have been rumors for years that Apple is attempting to reduce is reliance on Samsung, one of its top supplier of parts for the iPhone and iPad but also its biggest competitor in the smartphone space. Most of those rumors have pointed to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., but reports back in July claimed Apple was in talks with TSMC competitor GlobalFoundries. expand full story

November 8, 2013

PCalc iOS app updated w/ 64-bit support, new nighttime theme, & much more

Popular scientific calculator app PCalc was updated today with new features including 64-bit support for the iPhone 5s and new iPads. The updated app also includes a new nighttime theme on iOS 7 called “Samurai Night” that can automatically switch on when it’s dark.

Along with PCalc, we’re also huge fans of Digits Calculator in iOS.

Version 3.1 of PCalc for iPhone and iPad also includes a long list of other new features and fixes:

What’s New in Version 3.1

Added 64-bit support for the iPhone 5s and new iPads. Added a new darker iOS 7 theme, “Samurai Night”. Added an option to automatically switch to “Samurai Night” when it’s dark outside. Added an accounting mode that automatically enters a decimal point and rounds the display to two decimal places. Added an option to make the text on the keys bold. Added new commands to the user functions and conversions. Now display dark menus on an iPhone when using a dark theme. Now disable the deg / rad buttons when not in decimal mode. Now support touch typing using VoiceOver. Fixed a problem adjusting sliders using VoiceOver. Fixed a problem displaying the tape and registers in certain themes. Fixed a problem hiding the status bar. Fixed a problem with double-height status bars. Fixed the sorting in the “Density” section of the conversions.

PCalc 3.0 is available for $9.99 on the App Store.

November 7, 2013

Facebook iOS app now lets iPad users edit posts

Back in October Facebook added the ability to edit posts and comments and also view all of your changes. However, at the time the feature was only available to iPhone users. Today iPad users can finally edit posts too with an update to the Facebook iOS app that just rolled out on the App Store.

Also new in version 6.7 of the app is new languages for icons, but Facebook doesn’t list the specific languages in its release notes.

The Facebook app is available on the App Store for free.

What’s New in Version 6.7

• Now in additional languages: Use icons to share how you’re feeling and what you’re doing • Now on iPad: Edit your posts and tap to see all your changes • Bug fixes

November 6, 2013

Pinterest adds Safari Push Notifications for OS X Mavericks

Pinterest today announced on its blog that it’s introducing Safari Push Notifications for users running Apple’s new OS X Mavericks update.

This makes it easy to get real-time updates, like when someone comments on your Pin, or sends you a Pin they think you’ll like. Similar to the push notifications you might see on youriPhone or iPad, you can see alerts in the upper right of your desktop screen.

Pinterest is using Apple’s new Apple Push Notifications Service introduced with Mavericks that allows websites to offer users the ability to receive push notifications on their desktop and in the OS X Notification Center. Pinterest push notifications can be activated by visiting Pinterest in Safari on Mavericks.

Pebble smartwatch will finally receive all iOS 7 app notifications

Today, smartwatch maker Pebble finally announced a long awaited feature that will allow users to receive all notifications from their iOS 7 device reliably. It also announced version 2.0 of its SDK with new features for developers.

First, we’re introducing a more delightful user experience for Pebble customers using iOS. Pebble is now fully integrated with iOS 7 and works seamlessly with Notification Center. This means that any notifications you’ve enabled in Notification Center on your iOS 7 device will appear on your Pebble — just like that. It’s easier than ever to pick and choose which updates you want to see on your watch.

Back in June, we noted that Apple was introducing Apple Notification Center Service to allow Bluetooth devices to reliably receive all notifications that hit Notification Center on a connected iOS device. Before integrating ANCS, Pebble could only receive SMS, Email and Call notifications reliably from iOS 6+ devices.

Pebble’s SDK 2.0 announced today for developers includes a number of new APIs for Javascript, Accelerometer, Data Logging and Persistent Storage:

These API allow developers to make Pebble apps that interface directly with the web (real-time weather, transit info, location check-in), access the accelerometer (health/fitness monitoring and gesture-based remote control), log data when disconnected from the phone (health/fitness tracking), and store info on the watch (high scores for games, settings). You can find out more about SDK 2.0 on the Pebble developer blog.

The notifications support will arrive via an update to the Pebble iOS app later today for iOS 7 devices. Pebble also announced that it’s offering free worldwide shipping through its website starting today and shared some numbers:

  • Number of Pebbles on wrists worldwide: 190,000
  • Number of apps and faces downloaded: 2 million
  • Number of apps and faces on mypebblefaces.com: 2,200
  • Number of watchfaces created on watchface-generator.de: 80,000
  • Number of companion apps available on the iTunes and Google Play stores: 50+
  • Number of developers: 10,000+

Yahoo launches redesigned Finance iOS app w/ push notifications, interactive charts & more

If the lack of features in Apple’s stock Stocks app on iOS (also powered by Yahoo) just isn’t cutting it, Yahoo announced today the release of a completely redesigned Yahoo Finance iOS app with push notifications and much more.

The new app introduces a revamped UI alongside a number of new features. Perhaps the most notable feature is the ability to follow specific stocks and receive push notifications for breaking stories:

The Yahoo Finance app for iPhone and iPad was reimagined to deliver a beautiful personalized experience with a stream of top news and data based on your favorite stocks and interests. We’ve added Push Notifications to keep you in the know as important stories break — so you can make quick and informed decisions on the stocks and companies you follow.

Yahoo has also added new interactive charts that users can pan and pinch to manipulate and use to compare any stock, market or index to see related price changes.

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