Apple Delaying Production on Larger-Screened ‘iPad Pro’ Until September

Apple has opted delay production on the rumored larger-screened “iPad Pro” due to issues with display panel supply, reports Bloomberg. Manufacturing on the tablet will reportedly begin in September, rather than earlier in the year.

Production of the 12.9-inch-screen iPad is now scheduled to start around September because of delays involving the supply of display panels, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the details aren’t public. Apple had initially planned to begin making the larger version this quarter, people familiar those plans had said.

This isn’t the first time that rumors have hinted at delays for the iPad Pro. Apple was said to be targeting an early 2015 release date for the tablet last year, but those plans were reportedly put on hold. Back in October, The Wall Street Journal said that Apple had opted to delay mass production on the iPad in order to focus on iPhone 6 Plus production, and in November, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said production could be delayed until Q2 2015 because of difficulties related to the production of display components. With production delayed until September, the tablet could see a release in late 2015.

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Rendering of the iPad Pro by Martin Hajek

Apple is planning to use the “iPad Pro,” as the media calls it, to boost its flagging iPad sales. The tablet is expected to measure in somewhere between 12.2 and 12.9 inches, dwarfing both the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 and the 7.9-inch iPad mini 3.

It may be targeted at the enterprise market, and rumors have suggested it could sport an “ultra” high-resolution display and stereo speakers at the top and bottom edges of the device for an improved audio experience. It may also ship with an optional stylus accessory.


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Apple Putting Banners Up at Yerba Buena Center Ahead of March 9 Event

Apple began its efforts to decorate the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco yesterday, putting up the scaffolding that would allow workers to hang colorful banners and logos, and as of today, the first decorations have gone up.

Starting this morning, workers were spotted in the basket of a bright orange cherry picker, placing a banner across the glass of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts where Apple will hold a special “Spring Forward” media event on March 9. The initial banner panels, which include Apple’s iconic Apple logo, use the same general colors that were seen on the event invite, in shades of green ranging from pistachio to honeydew.

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Image via @RaceJohnson

Workers have only just begun decorating the event center and it’s likely the building’s entire side will feature the same graduated lotus flower Apple design that was seen on the invitation, so colors should expand from green to blue to purple over the next few days as the company finishes preparations for Monday’s event.

Apple’s “Spring Forward” affair is said to be focused on the Apple Watch, and the company is expected to unveil additional details about the device, including information on battery life, pricing, and a launch date. Apple may also be planning to use the event to unveil the 12-inch Retina MacBook Air and/or refreshed 11 and 13-inch MacBook Airs.

The event will kick off on Monday, March 9 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time. Apple plans to provide live coverage of the event on its website and through a channel on the Apple TV, and MacRumors will also be covering the event with both a live blog here on MacRumors.com and through our MacRumorsLive Twitter account.


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HBO and Apple in Talks for $15/Month Apple TV Streaming Service Launching in April

HBO is in talks with Apple over a partnership that would see its upcoming standalone web-only subscription television package available on the Apple TV, reports Michael Learmonth, writing for International Business Times. CNBC has also confirmed that Apple and HBO are in talks in the video tweet posted below.


Apple could potentially be one of HBO’s launch partners for its web-only service, which may be called “HBO Now.” News of HBO’s web-based subscription service first surfaced in October of 2014, after HBO CEO Richard Plepler shared the company’s plans at an investor presentation.

The service, aimed at cable cutters, will allow users to access HBO content without a cable subscription for a set monthly fee. With the launch of a cable-free subscription service, HBO will become the first major premium content provider to cease limiting its television and movie offerings to cable subscribers.

According to Learmonth, HBO’s web-only subscription will launch in April alongside the premiere of the fifth season of Game of Thrones, which takes place on April 12. The service is said to cost $15 per month, which is roughly how much it costs to subscribe to HBO through a cable company. A partnership with Apple would allow the service to be watched on the Apple TV, much like the existing version of HBO’s service, HBO Go. HBO Go is available to all existing HBO subscribers on a variety of devices like the iPad and Apple TV, but it requires an HBO subscription through a cable or satellite provider.

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Cable companies like Time Warner and Comcast have long been reluctant to offer piecemeal pricing and companies like HBO have previously avoided moving away from traditional cable models in order to preserve the status quo and avoid upsetting existing revenue streams.

The introduction of HBO’s service will be a major victory for cord cutters, and it could encourage other content providers to introduce similar offerings. Content providers’ reluctance to shift away from traditional models has been one of the major factors that’s prevented Apple from establishing deals for its own service in the past.


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MacBook Air Refresh With Broadwell Processors and Intel HD 6000 Graphics Appears Imminent

Apple’s MacBook Air hasn’t been updated since last April, which means the company’s line of ultraportable notebooks is due for a refresh. New screenshots from the forums of Chinese site Feng.com suggest an update is imminent, depicting the specifications of a MacBook Air with one of Intel’s Broadwell processors. According to the user who posted the screenshots, they’re from a 2015 MacBook Air that was produced by Foxconn.

The screenshots show the system information for a low-end 13-inch MacBook Air (MacBookAir7,2) with an Intel Core 1.6GHz i5-5250U processor and Intel HD Graphics 6000, which is what we would expect to see. The machine ships with 4GB of RAM and continues to use a display with a resolution of 1440 x 900. The battery appears to be very similar to the battery in the existing 13-inch MacBook Air.

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The notebook is running a custom version of OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 with a build number of 14C2043, another marker we would expect to find in a new machine. The serial number provided is not registered with Apple and comes up as invalid, but that may be due to its unreleased status. There is no information within the screenshots that indicates the information has been faked, but there’s also no concrete detail that earmarks them as real, either, aside from the fact that they closely align with what we would expect to see in the next MacBook Air refresh.

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A chart suggests that the 13-inch MacBook will come in three iterations. The first two will use the 1.6GHz Core-i5 processor and will ship with either 128 or 256GB of storage. The higher-end model will use the Intel Core i7-5650U 2.2GHz chip and will ship with 8GB of RAM and 512GB of flash storage. There will be a variety of upgrade options as well.

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There is no information available on the 11-inch MacBook Air, but it will use the same Broadwell chips and will offer many of the same upgrade options.

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Apple Still Tweaking iTunes Music Store Algorithms, Restored Editorial Focus Pleases Indies

Following several months of experimentation with how it curates the music portion of its iTunes Store, Apple has rolled back some of those changes to restore an emphasis on editorial rather than sales-based criteria, according to Billboard.



The news comes after a few independent record labels voiced concern over their artists being lost under the better-performing singers and albums of bigger labels. The company has apparently to not fully eliminate sales-based algorithms for deciding on what content to feature, but have “toned down” that aspect to allow editorial discretion to once again steer the offerings on iTunes’ main page.



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After a few weeks of experimenting with that presentation, the iTunes teamed toned down the algorithm and re-asserted the role that editorial discretion has in choosing which music is highlighted in the store. “iTunes will always be driven by editorial discretion,” says a source who is familiar with Apple’s online store philosophy. “Editorial choice will always be at the heart of what music is featured in the store.”

Despite the introduction of the sales-focused algorithm towards the end of 2014 and into the new year, the indie music market still found itself fairly well-represented on the storefront. As Billboard reports, the sector got 40 percent of carousel ads on the main page of iTunes, 50 percent of the “New Music” section, 37 percent of the “Hot Tracks” section, and 20 percent of what Apple calls the “Bricks”, the rectangular-shaped ads populating the store.

Indie labels were worried that they would get lost in the shuffle with all the changes happening in the iTunes Store. They were concerned that a sales velocity algorithm playing a strong role in determining what would be featured in its sliders would bolster the advantage of the majors, who tend to have bigger-selling records.

Various other concerns of smaller labels were alleviated, as well, including iTunes’ ongoing effort to clean up song duplicates in the storefront, to an extent where some songs were taken down despite being in compliance with the company’s rules. But, as one indie executive noted, if a proper case is made to bring back the music, Apple will listen. “iTunes are flexible; they are not an account who says ‘its our way or the highway.'”



Perhaps the biggest shift on the back-end of iTunes relates to how pre-order numbers factor into album sales. Previously, pre-order numbers were added to launch day sales, rocketing popular pre-release albums to the top of charts on release. The new configuration wipes pre-order figures away on launch day and starts all albums on level ground, requiring albums to garner successful day one-and-onward launches to hit the top spots.



Apple has been steadily building up iTunes in preparation for the future integration with Beats Music this year. The company has most recently hired BBC Radio DJ Zane Lowe to possibly work on its iTunes Radio service and acquired media analytics company Semetric to integrate its Musicmetric tracking service into the iTunes/Beats refresh. Apple has also been seeking expertise in music journalism, perhaps to fill out editorial content appearing alongside listings in the iTunes Store.

‘iPhone 6s’ Could Have 2GB of RAM and Pre-Installed Apple SIM

The next-generation iPhone is expected to ship with 2GB of RAM and could also have a pre-installed Apple SIM, according to sources for AppleInsider. The so-called “iPhone 6s,” and presumably the “iPhone 6s Plus,” would be adopting both features from the iPad Air 2, which also has 2GB of RAM and a pre-installed Apple SIM.

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Both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and all previous models dating back to the iPhone 5, have 1GB of RAM and must be used with a SIM card obtained from an individual carrier. Apple SIM, introduced alongside the iPad Air 2, allows you to choose between a variety of carriers without locking into long-term plans. Participating U.S. carriers include AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.

“The same source also told AppleInsider that Apple is strongly considering shipping its next-generation handset with the Apple SIM pre-installed. That piece, which also made its debut with the iPad Air 2, allows consumers to sign up for mobile data plans from any participating carrier directly from the Settings app without long-term contracts and to switch providers at any time.”

While the report claims that Apple is strongly considering including a pre-installed Apple SIM on the next iPhone, the company’s vice president of iPhone, iPod and iOS product marketing Greg Joswiak downplayed the idea last year because of the higher number of iPhone customers that purchase their smartphone directly from a carrier.

“It’s about the customer experience,” he said during an appearance here at Re/code’s Code/Mobile conference. “We ultimately don’t know who you are going to use as the carrier, [and] we want to make it as easy as possible.”

Joswiak said Apple has not discussed putting the Apple SIM into iPhones, but said that because of the way most customers buy an iPhone–through a carrier directly–the Apple SIM is not as well suited. “I don’t think you’re going to go to the Verizon store and say, ‘Can you hook me up with AT&T?,'” he said.

These rumors are rather predictable given that Apple typically improves the hardware specifications of iPhones and iPads each year, although the addition of a pre-installed Apple SIM on iPhone may still not materialize due to tough opposition from carriers. Verizon, for example, was notably absent as a participating carrier for Apple SIM when the iPad Air 2 was released last year.

Apple is expected to announce its next-generation iPhones in September per usual. The “iPhone 6s” was also rumored to have 2GB of RAM and Force Touch in January based on sources within Apple’s supply chain. Few other details about the upcoming iPhones are known, asides from a disputed claim that the devices will include a DSLR-like dual-lens camera system.

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Apple Tops Movie Product Placement Rankings for the First Time Since 2011

Branding website Brandchannel recently revealed the winners of the Brandcameo 2015 Product Placement Awards, which names the movies and brands with the most proliferation within Hollywood films over the past year. For the first time since 2011, Apple nabbed the 2014 Award for Overall Product Placement, appearing in 9 of the 35 films that topped the U.S. box office last year.

Brandchannel mentions the most influential Apple moments in films last year, perhaps the most popular of which is an extended scene in Marvel’s blockbuster Captain America: The Winter Soldier, in which two of its protagonists use a MacBook Pro inside an Apple Store to hack into secretive S.H.I.E.L.D. data.

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A quick tangential reference to an iPod Shuffle in The Lego Movie also helped Apple reign over previous winners like Budweiser (2013) and Mercedes-Benz (2012), and just barely beat out the likes of Coca-Cola and Sony for the award.

Apple bested both Coca-Cola and Sony by a single appearance, for which Apple can thank “The Lego Movie.” The Apple logo doesn’t appear in the film but Lord Business does talk about his iPod Shuffle. Recent winners Budweiser (2013) and Mercedes-Benz (2012) showed up in a distant five and six times respectively.

Other appearances include in “Ride Along,” “The Other Woman,” “Neighbors,” “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Think Like a Man Too,” “Gone Girl” and “Ouija.”

The website mentions that while Apple’s return to product placement dominance in 2014, appearing in just over 25 percent of the top box office films, is a step up from the last few years, the company’s brand appearances still remain well below its peak performance years. The brand saw the most proliferation in its “golden age” of 2009, appearing in nearly 50 percent of all number 1 movies that year. It dropped to 42.5 percent in 2011 and to just 15 percent in 2013.

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