Apple Planning Mid-September Event for 4.7-Inch iPhone 6, Timing of 5.5-Inch Model Unclear

According to 9to5Mac, Apple is putting the finishing touches on iOS 8 in advance of a September iPhone and iOS 8 launch event. Based on current projections, Apple is unsurprisingly tentatively planning to hold this iPhone-oriented event in mid-September. In line with previous reports, Apple is said to be aiming for a second product launch event in October for the iWatch and OS X Yosemite.

iphone_5s_6__side_grassiPhone 5s with mockups of 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 models
Similar to other recent September events, Apple is reportedly planning to focus on only iOS 8 and the iPhone 6 in this year’s September event. While the 4.7-inch iPhone will headline the presentation, the debut of the 5.5-inch model is still uncertain as it is further behind the 4.7-inch model in both testing and manufacturing.

These people say that the second and third weeks of September are the mostly likely weeks for the event to be held, but they add that manufacturing uncertainties could alter the event’s timeframe. A decision has not been finalized, and sources made it clear that the plans are in flux.

This information aligns with an earlier report that suggests Apple may push off the 5.5-inch model until 2015.

The report claims iOS 8 is on track for its public release this fall, with a fifth and final beta version expected on Monday, August 4, although a separate report from BGR claims a sixth beta is planned for Friday, August 15. A golden master version may debut a few weeks later at the end of August or early September. As rumored, dual-screen multi-tasking for the iPad and Maps improvements are still in the works, but these features are not expected to be available at launch and would come in a later iOS 8 update.

Following the September event, Apple also is planning a second event in October that will showcase the iWatch, Apple’s entry into the wearables market. This late fall event also will be used to discuss OS X Yosemite as well as unveil new iPad models. The iPad update is expected to be a modest refresh with hardware additions such as Touch ID and a faster A8 processor.

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Apple’s 36% Boost in Research and Development Spending Points to Strong Product Pipeline

Apple made a significant investment into research and development this past quarter, increasing spending in the category by 36 percent over the same quarter last year, reports Financial Times. As noted by BTIG Research analyst Walt Piecyk, Apple’s $1.6 billion quarterly investment represents 4 percent of sales, the highest percentage of spending in R&D since 2006, the year before Apple released the first iPhone.

This huge increase supports rumors the company is investing significantly in more than just new iPhones, iPads, and Macs for its upcoming product pipeline. Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly confirmed the company is preparing to enter new product categories, with Cook saying Apple is working “really great stuff.” Apple’s Internet Software and Services chief Eddy Cue also enthusiastically noted that Apple’s planned products for 2014 are “the best product pipeline that I’ve seen in my 25 years at Apple.”

iwatch-concept-nikeiWatch concept by Todd Hamilton

The highlight of these new products is likely the iWatch, a fitness-oriented smartwatch rumored for release later this year. The sensor-laden wearable device is expected to sync with the iPhone including via a new Health app for iOS 8 and may monitor vital health parameters such as blood pressure, oxygen levels and hydration status. A recently awarded patent hints at some of the advanced connectivity features Apple could embed into the device in future iterations.

Over the past several years, Apple has been hiring a number of medical and wearables experts, presumably to work on the iWatch team. Apple has also been pursuing hires from the fashion industry including former Yves Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve and former sales director of luxury watch company TAG Heuer Patrick Pruniaux. New retail chief Angela Ahrendts also comes from the fashion industry, having served as CEO of Burberry.

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OS X Yosemite Public Beta Launches Tomorrow, July 24

In a coordinated release today, a number of publications have released official overviews of the latest OS X Yosemite beta build alongside word of Apple’s plans to open up the public beta tomorrow, July 24. As noted by The Loop, the public beta of Yosemite will be the same build released to developers on Monday.

The public beta version of OS X Yosemite is the same version released to developers on Monday, so to start off, consumers and developers will be running the same software. However, the developer version of Yosemite will be updated more often over the next few months than the public beta version. This is so developers can continue to test their software with the latest operating system available. Consumers really don’t need updates that frequently.

yosemite_public_beta_machines
As far as the overviews designed to bring members of the public beta up to speed as the program launches, the general feeling is positive. Some note, however, that many of Yosemite’s best features involve integration with iOS 8 and will be inaccessible during the public beta as the program covers only OS X. Here are a few snippets:

Dana Wollman, Engadget

For anyone who thought OS X was getting stale, that it was evolving a little too gradually, you’ll definitely want to check out Yosemite: It ushers in a new, iOS-inspired design, along with some new, iOS-like features. In my week of testing, I’ve found the updated look to be more visually pleasing than the previous version, yet still easy to navigate. The new features are generally welcome too, though some admittedly feel more granular than others.

- Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch

We’ve had some time with the pre-release build ahead of today’s launch, and our time spent with the next version of Apple’s desktop OS has proven one thing: Yosemite offers a host of great new features for users new to Mac and experienced Apple fans alike. Even the pre-launch build feels like a solid step-up from Mavericks, which bodes well for the finished result that should launch once Apple irons out the bugs and incorporates user feedback from its beta test program.

- Lauren Goode, Re/code

I like its new design, the small improvements in Safari and Messages, and what appear to be promising fixes in Mail. It has already made a better impression on me than Mavericks did right out of the gate. But it’s also still very much a work in progress.

The official launch of OS X Yosemite to the general public will come later this year, likely in the October timeframe. The public beta program is limited to the first one million users to sign up on Apple’s site.

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Apple Addresses iOS ‘Backdoor’ Concerns by Outlining Legitimate Uses for Targeted Services

apple_security_iconEarlier this week, forensic expert Jonathan Zdziarski attracted attention for his disclosures of what appeared to be “backdoors” in iOS that could allow for covert data collection of users’ information from their devices. While Apple issued a statement denying that anything nefarious was involved, the company has now posted a new support document (via Cabel Sasser) offering a limited description of the three services highlighted in Zdziarski’s talk.

Each of these diagnostic capabilities requires the user to have unlocked their device and agreed to trust another computer. Any data transmitted between the iOS device and trusted computer is encrypted with keys not shared with Apple. For users who have enabled iTunes Wi-Fi Sync on a trusted computer, these services may also be accessed wirelessly by that computer.

The three processes include:

com.apple.mobile.pcapd: Diagnostic packet capture to a trusted computer, used for diagnosing app issues and enterprise VPN connection problems.

com.apple.mobile.file_relay: Used on internal devices and can be accessed (with user permission) by AppleCare for diagnostic purposes on the user’s device.

com.apple.mobile.house_arrest: Used by iTunes for document transfer and by Xcode during app development and testing.

Security experts will undoubtedly have additional questions about just how these services work and whether there are better and more secure ways of accomplishing the tasks they handle. At the very least, however, today’s disclosure demonstrates a willingness by Apple to share information about the legitimate need for these services and should help quell unsupported speculation that Apple has worked with security agencies to implement these tools to allow for covert surveillance.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

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iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite May Launch Separately Despite Integration Features

While iOS and Mac OS X have traditionally followed different release schedules, Apple’s recently announced Continuity features suggested it was possible for Apple’s two operating systems to debut at the same time. However, Apple is planning to stagger the releases of both iOS 8 and Mac OS X Yosemite, reports 9to5Mac, citing sources with knowledge of Apple’s plans.

continuity
iOS 8 is expected to launch in September alongside the iPhone 6 while OS X Yosemite will not launch until October. Apple used the same release schedule last year, launching iOS 7 alongside the iPhone 5s in September and OS X Mavericks one month later in October.

Continuity allows users to work seamlessly between iPhone, iPad and Mac, with the ability to start emails on one device and easily finish it on another, or using Macs and iPads to answer phone calls and “green bubble” text messages. Because iOS and OS X have never been designed to work better together than with iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, many saw a dual release as a good opportunity for Apple to cross-promote both its iOS devices and Macs with a stand-out new feature like Continuity.

Apple is planning on using engineering and user interface design members from the iOS team to help complete OS X Yosemite in time for a fall release, with a public beta planned as early as later this month.

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Apple Facing Class Action Lawsuit From 20,000 Employees Over Alleged Labor Code Violations

Apple is facing a class action lawsuit in California over a number of alleged Labor Code violations, with the company being accused of not providing timely meal breaks, timely rest breaks, and timely final paychecks, reports TechCrunch.

Plaintiffs bring this Class Action against Defendants to recover for, among other things, failure to provide meal and rest periods, failure to furnish accurate itemized wage statements, and failure to pay timely wages on the end of employment, interest, attorneys’ fees, penalties, costs, and expenses on behalf of themselves, the Plaintiff Class, and the Plaintiff Subclasses.

Originally filed in December of 2011 by four former Apple retail and corporate employees in San Diego, the lawsuit was certified as class action yesterday and could affect up to 20,000 current and former Apple employees in the state of California.

apple_retail_employees
According to the filing, which demands a jury trial, employee complaints cover a wide range of possible labor code violations. One complaint, for example, cites employees having to work for five hours straight without a meal break, while another complaint suggests that Apple took several weeks to send out a final check to multiple employees.

The lawsuit asks for compensatory damages and restitution of all monies due to affected employees from unlawful business practices, along with interest, but it does not specify a damages amount.

Along with this new class action lawsuit, Apple is embroiled in a class action lawsuit with Apple retail employees who allege that Apple’s bag checking policies have resulted in lost wages, a suit that also accuses Apple of violating state labor laws.

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