Last week, Chinese repair firm GeekBar shared a claimed schematic for the iPhone 6 showing what was claimed to be the pinning diagram for the device's rumored near field communications (NFC) chip. The part addressed on the schematic, PN65V, was thought to be a version of NXP's PN65 NFC package currently used in several Android devices.
The leak is one of several schematics shared by GeekBar over the past week and a half, and while some of the components have been misidentified, it is looking increasingly likely that the schematics themselves are legitimate. Seen in that light, it is worth taking a look back at the NFC claim to see if there is additional evidence for it.
Closeup of 4.7-inch iPhone 6 logic board with likely NFC chip location boxed in red, LTE modem boxed in green
MacRumors forum member chrmjenkins has pointed us toward a document showing the package used by NXP for its PN65, noting that it measures 5 mm x 5 mm with 32 terminals for connectivity. In examining the bare logic boards from the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 models, chrmjenkins believes he has spotted where that chip will be located.
The location on the board is a square patch that does not correspond to any component from the iPhone 5s logic board, indicating that it may indeed be for a new component such as an NFC chip. Existing components may of course see changes in shape between generations, but many of the current major components can be mapped reasonably well to locations on the iPhone 6 logic boards, leaving relatively few candidates for this new square patch.
Rumors of NFC for the iPhone have circulated for years, but they have yet to come to fruition. As a result, this year's crop of NFC rumors has understandably been greeted with skepticism, although the volume and specificity of the rumors has seemed greater this time around, with multiple sources pointing toward an NXP chip solution for the iPhone. And with Apple rumored to be making a push into mobile payments as soon as later this year, the time may finally be right for Apple to bring NFC to the iPhone.
Apple will launch a thinner MacBook near the end of this year or sometime next year, according to a new report from Digitimes. Citing supply chain sources in Taiwan, the report notes that component production has already begun in small volumes. Apple will also reportedly cease production of the 13-inch non-Retina MacBook Pro by the end of 2014.
A report last month claimed that Intel's continued delays of its Broadwell chip may cause Apple to push back the release of its 12-inch MacBook until late this 2014 or early 2015. The 12-inch MacBook is said to include a Retina display and may either be a successor to the MacBook Air or join Apple's current 11-inch and 13-inch models.
A previous report in June stated that Apple would begin production of a 12-inch MacBook Air in the third quarter of this year, with Quanta Computer in charge of assembly. The 12-inch MacBook Air was also described as appearing similar to the 11-inch and 13-inch models, but featuring a Retina display and internal changes to various components.
Other reports throughout the year have also shared information on a 12-inch MacBook Air, with NPD DisplaySearch and KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also stating that the new notebook would feature a Retina display. A user on a Chinese forum who previously shared accurate information noted that the 12-inch MacBook Air would incorporate a new cooling system and button-less trackpad design.
When iOS 8 is released to the public in the fall, iOS users will be able to take advantage of several new operating system features, including system wide third-party keyboards, which will bring fresh functionality to the default iOS keyboard.
Third-party keyboards are available on Android devices and have been long-desired on iOS, so several popular keyboard developers announced plans to bring their software to iOS shortly after third-party keyboard integration was announced at WWDC. After iOS 8 launches, we'll be seeing new keyboards from well-known developers like Fleksy, Swype, SwiftKey, and TouchPal.
iOS 8's third-party keyboard support will also allow new entrants into the customized keyboard arena, with developers bringing us apps that offer all kinds of different functions to improve the way we use our keyboards. One such developer, Kevin Wolkober, has created a quick text insertion keyboard that offers a unique function we haven't seen with previously previewed keyboards.
While keyboards like Swype and Fleksy focus on improving the typing experience through gestures and predictive text, Wolkober's QuickBoard is designed to give users a quicker way to enter the snippets of text that they type repeatedly into their iOS devices, including addresses, credit card information, email signatures, and more.
QuickBoard is actually split by function into three separate keyboard elements, including TextBoard, MeBoard, and LocationBoard. Each of these three keyboard functions lets users to tap to insert often-repeated text elements in any app to save time and effort.
TextBoard allows users to store snippets of text, accommodating any text from a one line signature to a lengthy paragraph. MeBoard stores all of a user's contact info, such as name, email, and home address, and is handy when filling out forms. LocationBoard will automatically determine a user's current location, allowing them to paste in a Google Maps URL or coordinates, or an approximate address, which is useful when a location needs to be shared outside of Messages.
Like any other customized keyboard, QuickBoard operates through an app that's installed on the iOS device and set up in iOS 8's Settings, as described in our hands-on TouchPal installation guide. The personal information and pre-written snippets of text available in the QuickBoard keyboard are created using the installed QuickBoard app.
Inserting text into the QuickBoard app
Chunks of text can be entered into TextBoard section of the app, for example, while the MeBoard pulls in information like name, address, and phone number. Though MeBoard is currently limited to information pulled from the Contacts app, custom information will be added before the app's official launch. Location data isn't inserted in the app itself, since it is pulled from the phone's current location whenever it's used.
The text elements saved in the QuickBoard app can be used in any other app, including Mail, Safari, Messages, Notes, iWork, and more. Inserting saved text into one of these apps is as simple as tapping on the globe icon on the keyboard to activate QuickBoard and then tapping on the relevant block of text.
Personal information, such as name and address, can be inserted by tapping on the person icon, and the arrow will determine a user's approximate location, allowing it to be quickly inserted into a text message, email, or other app. Location information is especially useful, as it cuts out several steps that would normally be necessary when sharing a location an email or other app.
QuickBoard demonstrated in the Notes app
QuickBoard includes access to a space bar, return key, and delete key for formatting purposes, but the rest of the typing is left to another keyboard app or iOS 8's default predictive text function. QuickBoard works seamlessly with any other keyboards installed, and switching between them is as simple as tapping on the globe icon.
Though simpler than most of the other keyboards we've seen before, QuickBoard hints at some of the innovative ways developers will take advantage of third-party keyboard integration in iOS 8. At the current time, QuickBoard is still in the beta testing phases, but Wolkober tells MacRumors that the app will be ready for download shortly after iOS 8 officially launches in the fall, with pricing yet to be determined.
Just before news of Apple's upcoming 12.9-inch iPad Pro was reported by Bloomberg, Re/Code's Walt Mossberg shared a snippet of an interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook commenting on the recent state of the tablet market, which has been on the decline. According to Cook, the dip in iPad sales over the past two quarters is just a "speed bump" for Apple.
In a brief interview about tablets I had this week with Apple CEO Tim Cook, he said, "We couldn't be happier with how we've done with the first four years of the iPad," and added that, "I'd call what's going on recently a speed bump, and I've seen that in every category."
The sentiment echoes comments that Cook made during the company's third quarter earnings call, where Apple announced iPad sales of just 13.3 million, down from 14.6 million in the year-ago quarter. The drop followed a Q2 sales dip that saw sales of 16.35 million iPads, down from 19.5 in Q2 2013.
During the call, Cook highlighted overall sales of more than 225 million iPads over the course of the last four years and suggested the tablet market itself was still "in its infancy." The CEO said that "significant innovation can be brought to the iPad," and pointed towards plans to bring improvements to Apple's tablet lineup.
Part of those plans may include the introduction of a larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which will launch in early 2015, according to Bloomberg. Rumors have suggested the larger tablet will include an ultra high-definition display and that it will be marketed towards Apple's enterprise customers.
While Apple has seen a serious drop in iPad sales over the past two quarters, the company continues to be the world's leading tablet vendor, holding 26.9 percent of the total tablet market. The company's iPad Air and iPad mini have hit 98% and 100% customer satisfaction rankings, respectively, and the iPad holds an 85 percent share of the U.S education market.
In addition to kickstarting iPad sales with the introduction of a larger iPad, Apple may see a jump in iPad sales during the last few months of the year, as the company is said to be introducing both a new iPad Air and a new Retina iPad mini with improved processors and a Touch ID fingerprint sensor. Touch ID proved to be a major draw for the iPhone, and its inclusion in the iPad may entice both new buyers and upgraders.
Apple is planning to launch its much-rumored 12.9-inch iPad in early 2015, reports Bloomberg. Hints of the tablet, which has been dubbed the "iPad Pro" in rumors, first appeared in mid-2013, with a prospective 2014 launch date. Recent rumors, however, suggested plans for the tablet had been put on hold.
Mockup of a 12.9-inch iPad next to a 13-inch MacBook Air
The new iPad will have a screen measuring 12.9 inches diagonally, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the details aren't public. Apple currently produces iPads with 9.7-inch and 7.9-inch displays. The Cupertino, California-based company has been working with suppliers for at least a year to develop a new range of larger touch-screen devices, said the people.
According to rumors, the larger 12.9-inch iPad will include a high pixel density with a display that nears ultra high-definition quality. It will likely adopt many of the design elements offered in the current iPad Air and iPad mini, like an ultrathin chassis and narrow side bezels.
Bloomberg suggests that the larger tablet is an effort to "shake up the iPad line" as sales of the iPad have been on the decline for the past two quarters. The larger tablets may appeal heavily to businesses, a market that Apple is also aiming for with its recent IBM partnership.
Along with a larger "iPad Pro" Apple is also working on a second-generation iPad Air and Retina iPad mini, both of which are expected to include upgraded processors and support for the Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
In an attempt to garner new users from parent company Apple, Beats Music has launched a contest to coincide with the upcoming London iTunes Festival. Beats Music's #GoWithMe contest is offering 25 Beats Music users in the United States a chance to win two tickets to see one of several musical acts during the festival, with the prize package including airfare to London and hotel accommodation.
Tickets to the London iTunes Festival traditionally are available for free, but are distributed through iTunes via a lottery system due to extremely high demand. Beats Music will announce the winners of the contest on August 28.
Announced last month, Apple's London iTunes Festival will begin on September 1 and run for 30 nights, with a different musical act performing each night. Announced performers include deadmau5, Pharrell Williams, Maroon 5, Lenny Kravitz, Mary J. Blige, and more. While most performances have been revealed over the last couple of weeks, two performers remain unknown.
Apple has been heavily promoting Beats Music in recent weeks, adding Beats Music to the list of "Apps Made by Apple," encouraging new iOS users to download the app, and sending out emails about Beats Music. The promotions have been somewhat successful, temporarily skyrocketing the Beats Music app to the top 10 free apps chart in the App Store. Beats Music wasn't able to retain its position on the charts, however, and has dropped back down to number 30.
Verizon today announced that it is preparing to launch its voice over LTE (VoLTE) service sometime in September, reports CNET. The new service will be available nationwide on supported phones that are connected to the carrier's LTE network.
VoLTE will provide high-definition quality voice and video calls that will significantly improve the overall calling experience. Not only will customers notice an enhancement in voice call quality, they also will be able to initiate a FaceTime-like video call right from the dialer app.
Once you experience the HD quality voice, you don't want to go back," Greg Dial, executive director of mobile services for Verizon, said in a pre-briefing and demonstration of the new service with reporters. "The tight integration of the video calling feature is also significant. You can launch it right from the dialer. There's no opening a separate app."
These new HD VoLTE calls will be considered voice calls and will count against a customer's available minutes. Video calls will be counted as data and will subtract from the customer's data allotment. There will be no extra charges for using this service, and it will be optional for customers.
Verizon has not specified which phones will be updated to support its new calling service, but the iPhone may be included on this list. The current generation iPhone chipset supports this feature, and it can be enabled with a software update. Rumors have suggested that Apple has plans to support VoLTE with the launch of iOS 8 and the iPhone 6. Along with Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile have announced plans to add VoLTE to their networks in the near future.
iOS 8 will also bring a WiFi calling feature, allowing customers to place higher-quality voice calls over WiFi instead of using a cellular network. T-Mobile is the first carrier to confirm that it will support Apple's WiFi calling feature when it launches this fall along with iOS 8.