TechCrunch Stories January 30, 2014

‘Father of the iPod’ Tony Fadell (right) and the rest of the Nest team will become Google’s “core hardware group,” working on a variety of hardware projects and given access to “as many resources as it needs,” according to an unnamed source cited by TechCrunch.

The new division will still work on hardware devices, but not necessarily thermostats or smoke detectors. In fact, Google would like Fadell to work on gadgets that make more sense for the company. Will it be a phone or a tablet? It’s unclear for now […]

When it comes to budget, Google is willing to let the Nest team use as many resources as it needs. In other words, the company is getting serious about consumer hardware, and Motorola was just a false start …  expand full story

TechCrunch Stories January 8, 2014

Short of any solid gold or diamond-encrusted cases you might find for those with more money than taste, you are probably looking at the most expensive iPhone case on the market: the FLIR One, yours for $350.

The case is, however, a fully-fledged gadget in its own right: a thermal imaging camera. TechCrunch had a play with one, and reported that it has several different modes, making it suitable for use by you and I as well as those trained to read thermal images. It can, for example, be set to highlight as simple binary differences the hottest and coldest heat sources in an image (sample images below the fold) …  expand full story

TechCrunch Stories November 21, 2013

Apple’s iBeacon system is to get its first retail launch in Macy’s branches in Union Square, San Francisco and Herald Square, NYC, within the next few weeks, reports TechCrunch.

Apple will of course be using the system in its own retail stores, though likely after the Macy’s launch. Macy’s is already operating a closed trial of the system.

Offers now will be pinged to users right when they are walking past them, or past a department that contains products that users have shown interest in before. And for those who have opted in, the iBeacon technology will also automatically open the app and can trigger other actions when you enter a participating store, such as telling users how many loyalty points they currently have to redeem towards a purchase …  expand full story

TechCrunch Stories November 20, 2013

For the first time, Apple has released an Apple Store app optimised for the iPad, via TechCrunch.  The app uses the now-standard iOS 7 colour scheme and design elements, focusing on white space and text. The app is a separate download to the iPhone app, but offers all the same functionality you would expect, although some of the location-based features for retail are absent due to the different use cases of the devices.

Imagery is the focus — Apple is trading heavily on its beautiful Retina-display equipped iPads to show of its store products.

expand full story

TechCrunch Stories November 15, 2013

Apple Stores resort to pen and paper as point-of-sale outages continue

It’s not quite what you expect to see on those minimalist Apple Store tables: a stack of paper slips, a stapler and an old-school manual card-swipe machine – but that’s what some stores had to resort to after their Point Of Sale systems went down yesterday.

Store staff normally process sales with iPod Touches in cases which combine a cardreader with an external battery. Some customers were reporting that the system outage lasted several hours and affected their ability to collect their Retina iPad Minis, bought online with the Personal Pickup option.

The EasyPay self-service checkout app was reportedly still working, but Apple limits the value of transactions that can be paid for in that way.

Via TechCrunch

TechCrunch Stories November 12, 2013

Sapphire iPhone screens just might be cost-effective sooner rather than later

TechCrunch has an interesting piece in which it suggests that the sapphire crystal Apple currently uses in the Touch ID home button on the iPhone 5s might prove a cost-effective option for iPhone screens sooner than we thought.

Sapphire is very, very tough. Short of scraping it with your diamond ring, you’re unlikely to scratch it. But it’s also very, very expensive. A sapphire outer layer on an iPhone would likely cost ten times as much as the Gorilla Glass Apple uses at present.

But Apple recently struck a deal with sapphire manufacturer GT Advanced Technologies to boost production by 2000 percent, and GTAT just happens to have acquired a solar panel company that developed a new technique for slicing hard materials very thinly using an ion particle accelerator.

If the same technique can be applied to sapphire, and if it could be combined with a sapphire laminating system already patented by Apple, the cost could plummet.

Apple could drive the costs of sapphire sheets down incredibly low in comparison to the traditional method. It will be able to create many of these super thin sapphire sheets from the same amount of raw material it would take to make one full piece of sapphire cover glass. It could then laminate the assembly together in the way that it currently does iPhones […]

This, in turn, could mean sapphire cover sheets that are harder and tougher than standard glass materials on your iPhone years sooner than most analysts have predicted.

Those are two big IFs, so we’re not holding our breath, but it’s certainly an intriguing possibility.

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