Now that Apple’s iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 are available, retailers have been offering discounts on the original iPad Air and the iPad mini 2.
There are quite a few deals on previous-generation higher capacity cellular and Wi-Fi iPads, and this week also sees some discounts on remaining 2013 Retina MacBook Pro inventory and deals on some Apple accessories.
The Wi-Fi only 64GB iPad Air in Space Gray can be purchased for $499 from Best Buy, as can the 64GB Silver Wi-Fi model. The Wi-Fi only 128GB iPad Air in Silver can be purchased from B&H Photo for $599, or from Best Buy for $699. Best Buy also has the 128GB iPad Air in Space Gray for $699.
Several sites are also offering deals on the higher-capacity Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad Air models. The 64GB Cellular iPad Air in Silver from AT&T is available for $599 from Adorama. The 64GB Cellular iPad Air in Space Gray from AT&T is also available for $599, from B&H Photo.
iPad mini 2
Higher-capacity iPad mini 2 models are also available at steep discounts, and these iPads are a particularly good deal as the only difference between the mini 2 and the mini 3 is Touch ID and a gold color option.
Retina MacBook Pro
There are a few deals 2014 Retina MacBook Pro this week. The 2.6GHz/8GB/128GB 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is available for $1,199.99 from Adorama and B&H Photo. The 13-inch 2.6GHz/8GB/256GB model is available for $1,399 from Adorama and B&H Photo. The high-end 2.6GHz/8GB/512GB 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is on sale for $1,699.99 from Adorama and B&H Photo, a savings of $100.
There are some deals on remaining 2013 Retina MacBook Pros. The 2.4GHz/4GB/128GB 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is available for $1,099 from Adorama and B&H Photo. The 2.4GHz/8GB/256 13-inch model is available for $1,279 from Adorama. The 2.6GHz/8GB/512GB 13-inch model is available for $1,549 from Adorama and B&H Photo.
The Sony Portable Bluetooth Speaker with Lightning Dock is available for $169 from Groupon, down from its original price of $249. LivingSocial has a deal on the Jawbone Jambox speaker, offering it for $89.
StackSocial is offering the “Mac to the Future” bundle for $29.99, which includes $961 worth of Mac software programs like Fantastical and Ember.
The Jarv Run BT Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Monitor is available for $28.95 from Amazon. Groupon is selling the Kensington PowerBolt Apple Car Charger for $9.99 and StackSocial has Nintendo iPhone 6 and 6 Plus cases for $14.
MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors.
Apple is heavily pushing its new “Continuity” features in OS X Yosemite that improve cross-platform integration between iOS and the Mac. The most significant of the Continuity features is Handoff, which allows OS X and iOS users to start a task on one device and swap to another one nearby to continue work.
Handoff can be used for a number of different activities, including email, web browsing, messaging, and more. Users can begin composing an email on their iPhone and finish it on their Mac. Maps and websites work in a similar fashion, as users can load up content on one device and look at it on another. Currently, Handoff works with Mail, Safari, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Maps, Messages, Reminders, Calendar, and Contacts. A number of third-party apps including Pixelmator, Wunderlist , PCalc, and Things also contain support for Handoff.
You will need iOS 8.1 and OS X Yosemite in order to use Handoff. You also need to make sure that both your Mac and iPhone are logged into the same iCloud account, and check that your Mac supports Handoff. You can check if your Mac is compatible with Handoff by clicking the symbol in the top left-hand side of the Menu bar, going to About This Mac, clicking on System Report and clicking on the “Bluetooth” section. You should then see information about whether your system is compatible with Handoff.
Handoff is limited to Macs with Bluetooth 4.0, which leaves many older Macs unable to access the new features. Additionally, even though the 2011 MacBook Air and 2011 Mac mini include Bluetooth 4.0, Apple has chosen to make both devices incompatible with OS X Yosemite’s Continuity features. To solve this issue, a number of talented members of the MacRumors forums have come up with a set of instructions and a Continuity Activation Tool that should get Continuity working on Macs unable to support the feature.
Setting Up Handoff
1. Turn on Wi-Fi on your iPhone (Settings -> Wi-Fi) and Mac (Menu Bar -> Wi-Fi -> Turn Wi-Fi On.
2. Turn on Bluetooth on your iPhone (Settings -> Bluetooth) and Mac (Menu Bar -> Apple -> System Preferences -> Bluetooth -> Turn Bluetooth On).
3. Turn on Handoff on your iPhone (Settings -> General -> Handoff & Suggested Apps -> Turn Handoff On) and Mac (Menu Bar -> Apple -> System Preferences -> General -> Recent Items – > Turn On “Allow Handoff Between this Mac and your iCloud devices”)
4. You may now begin using Handoff by launching a compatible app on your Mac or iOS device and swapping to another to see your content. For example, try launching Safari on your Mac and then switch to your iPhone. On your iPhone’s lock screen, you should see a small Safari icon in the lower left corner. Slide up to launch Safari, and the iOS app will display the same website as seen on your Mac.
You can also see a Handoff-enabled app through the multitasking switcher by double-pressing your home button and scrolling to the left.
Handoff works in a similar fashion when transitioning from an iOS device to a Mac. On the Mac, a Handoff-compatible app will be displayed on the left-most side of the dock. Clicking on the app in the Mac’s dock will load the same content as seen on an iOS device.
Since the launch of OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 earlier this month, many users have had issues getting Handoff to work with their devices.
Users on our forums seem to have found that the most common solution is a combination of logging out and back into iCloud on their devices, disabling and enabling Handoff, disabling and enabling Bluetooth, and restarting devices. But even amongst those who found success, it may not last forever. Handoff clearly remains buggy in this early release.
If those steps don’t work for you, members on Apple’s own support forums have also suggested that deleting Bluetooth preferences in OS X and then restarting Bluetooth can also solve problems with Handoff, but we haven’t been able to get that to work on our end.
Any of these steps may help if you are having trouble with activating Handoff on your devices, but ultimately, Apple may have to release an update to allow Handoff to work consistently for everyone.
Apple’s iPad Air 2 launched with a very, very pleasant surprise: If you splurged on an LTE model, you could choose whether you wanted to jump on Sprint’s, T-Mobile’s or AT&T’s networks (along with EE’s if you’re in the UK), with nary a SIM card swap in sight. It seemed pretty brilliant, really: you get the ability to pick a data plan that works best for you even if it’s not from the same carrier each time, and Apple no longer has to juggle different iPad models for different carrier partners. Alas, if only everyone played by the same rules. At first we thought the only caveat was that Verizon hasn’t thrown its support behind Apple’s split-personality SIM, but it turns out if you sign up for a spot of surfing with AT&T, you won’t be able to switch to any other network without procuring another Apple SIM. Just lovely, no?
Reports of AT&T’s clinginess first started making the rounds on Twitter (see image below, courtesy of Twitter user @PilotMike), and Apple has confirmed to us that this is sadly just how the system works. Meanwhile, AT&T clarified its stance to Re/code, noting that while the iPad remains an unlocked device you can throw any ol’ compatible SIM into, you’re still on the hook for another Apple SIM card if you want to be able to play the field. When asked why AT&T chose to lock things down after activation, a carrier spokesperson told Re/code’s Ina Fried that’s “it’s just simply the way we’ve chosen to do it.” Going down this particular rabbit hole is AT&T’s prerogative, but hey — in doing so, it’s only giving its rivals more ammo.
Apple has submitted Apple Campus Phase 2 architectural and site refinement plans to the City of Cupertino, signaling its readiness to begin the second phase of construction on its spaceship campus as soon as first phase construction has been completed.
In a massive 72 page PDF, Apple outlines revised plans for a set of research and development buildings located to the east and west of North Tantau Avenue, adjacent to the main circular campus building. While Apple has already received approval for the second phase of construction, the updated documents address specific changes the company is hoping to make to the area.
Constructed in a 600,000 square foot space, the Tantau Development will house 2,200 employees and will include parking facilities with 1,740 parking spots. The main Tantau building will include four stories of office space for employees along with a built-in cafeteria. Two other buildings will house two-story testing facilities.
According to the revised documents, Apple’s original plans for the area are largely intact, but some minor refinements have been made to address building size/height and the location of the parking facilities. The company originally planned for a parking basement, but has now shifted its plans to include both a smaller basement and a larger above ground parking structure, along with an underground server room. Apple also changed the size of the prospective cafeteria somewhat in order to accommodate more office space, and shifted the sizes of some of its planned research facilities.
Apple originally planned to begin development on the Tantau buildings alongside construction of the main circular campus building, but the company ended up pushing back all development on the site to a second phase of construction in order to cut down on initial construction costs.
It is unclear when construction on the Tantau buildings might begin, but Apple is scheduled to complete its main campus building in 2016. A city hearing to consider the updated plans will take place on November 15, 2014.
After tearing down the iPad Air 2 earlier this week, iFixit has now moved on to the iPad mini 3, which also received a minor update during Apple’s October 16 iPad event. Unlike the iPad Air 2, the iPad mini 3 saw few internal improvements, gaining a new gold color option and a Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
As expected, iFixit’s teardown reveals many of the same parts that were used in first Retina iPad mini, now called the iPad mini 2. It continues to use the same 7.9-inch display, A7 processor with M7 coprocessor, 5-megapixel camera, and 802.11n Wi-Fi.
There is one new addition, which is directly related to Touch ID and the iPad mini 3’s ability to support in-app Apple Pay payments. Like the iPad Air 2, the iPad mini 3 includes a 65V10 NFC controller manufactured by NXP.
NFC Controller in blue
There is no accompanying NFC antenna to allow the tablet to make NFC-based payments within stores, but there has been strong speculation suggesting the NFC chip is where Apple Pay’s “Secure Element” is located. According to Apple, the Secure Element is a dedicated chip that stores encrypted Device Account Numbers, which replace credit card numbers for security reasons.
Though the iPad mini 3 and the iPad Air 2 are not able to make payments within stores, they can make Apple Pay payments within participating apps and thus utilize both the Secure Element and Device Account Numbers.
NXP’s own site details the use of a specific integrated circuit designed for handling and storing secure data on its website, stating the technology has been integrated into its NFC controller chips. While the 65V10 is not mentioned by name, its appearance in both the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 suggests that it is indeed being used for its security function rather than its NFC function.
Aside from the inclusion of the 65V10 NFC chip, which is located in a spot on the logic board that was previously left blank, there are few other notable features about the iPad mini 3. iFixit did find that the tablet has new home button cabling to support Touch ID and home button brackets that are securely affixed by hot glue, which makes removing the home button a much more difficult task.
Like the Touch ID cable in the iPhone 5s, the location of the Touch ID cable in the iPad mini 3 makes screen repairs very difficult, as the cable is easy to sever when opening up the display. Due to the glue and the precarious position of the Touch ID cable, the iPad mini 3 earned a repairability score of 2 out of 10 from iFixit.
Apple’s iPad mini 3 is currently available in both retail stores and from Apple’s online store, with prices that start at $399.
Apple’s new Apple SIM card in the iPad Air 2 and the Retina iPad mini 3 is designed to be universal, usable across a variety of wireless carriers in the US and UK, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and UK’s EE. According to user reports in the MacRumors forums and on Twitter, AT&T is not supporting this interchangeability and is locking the SIM included with cellular models of the iPad Air 2 and Retina iPad mini 3 after it is used with an AT&T plan.
Using Apple SIM, you can choose from different cellular carriers and their various programs. The data plans vary by carrier. For instance, in the United States, you can choose a domestic plan from either Sprint or T-Mobile and also pick an alternate plan from the other carrier as needed. When you choose AT&T on iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, AT&T dedicates Apple SIM to their network only.
If your Apple SIM becomes dedicated to a specific network and you want to choose from other carrier programs, you can purchase a new Apple SIM from an Apple Retail store.
Apple introduced this universal SIM along with the iPad Air 2 and Retina iPad mini 3. It is the first SIM provided by Apple that is designed to work across multiple carriers.
Apple’s digital music sales continue to spiral downward, falling more than 13 percent worldwide thus far in 2014, reports The Wall Street Journal. Last year, digital music sales dropped for the first time since iTunes opened in 2003, falling 5.7 percent year-over-year.
This continued decline is likely one of the reasons behind Apple’s $3 billion acquisition of Beats Electronics and Beats Music earlier this year. Apple may be hoping to offset this drop in digital music revenue with increased subscription revenue from Beats Music.
The plummeting download numbers help illustrate why Apple bought the $10-a-month subscription streaming service Beats Music earlier this year, as part of its $3 billion acquisition that included headphone maker Beats Electronics. Apple is rebuilding Beats Music and plans to relaunch it next year as part of iTunes, according to a person familiar with the matter.
To attract a broader customer base, Apple is rumored to be revamping Beats Music with an expected relaunch of the service slated for next year. The Cupertino company also is pushing for an industry-leading $5 monthly subscription cost that may increase the number of subscribers willing to pay for a premium service.
Apple is not new to the streaming music business, having launched iTunes Radio last year alongside iOS 7. The Pandora-like service has reportedly failed to achieve its goals of spurring listeners to purchase tracks from the iTunes Store despite being bundled on millions of phones in its available regions, and has yet to expand beyond the United States and Australia.
Earlier this week, a teardown analysis of the iPad Air 2 by iFixit surprisingly revealed the presence of a near field communications (NFC) controller chip that is identical to the one inside the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Apple never advertised the Air 2 as having NFC, and the tablet doesn’t support contactless Apple Pay payments, so the inclusion of this chip is somewhat puzzling.
In a new article, Gigaom examines the reasons why Apple might include but not activate this hardware in its tablet device, speculating that the chip may eventually serve to help small businesses process payments.
Portion of iPad Air 2 logic board showing NFC chip boxed in red (Source: iFixit)
In this scenario, the iPad Air 2 would serve as a cash register, potentially using the onboard NFC chip to process wireless Apple Pay payments without any additional hardware. The iPad already is gaining traction with small retailers for use as a mobile register, often in conjunction with a credit card reader and processing service such as Square. But with Apple Pay rolling out as an NFC system for payments, Apple could be eventually be looking to help retailers accept such payments with its hardware.
The key to NFC in the iPad Air 2 is that it affords the possibility of becoming an Apple Pay cash register with no dongle needed. Conceivably, it could expand the number of outlets that take Apple Pay from around 40 to anyone selling stuff who owns the latest iPad. It brings Apple Pay out from the big box store and into farmers’ markets and boutiques.
Such a system would appear to complement rather than replace existing credit card implementations used by small businesses, as Apple Pay currently has only limited distribution through the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and retailers would still need to accept traditional credit and debit cards. Businesses also still require credit card processing arrangements through either a bank or a separate payment service such as Square.
Apple Pay launched earlier this week with only a few hiccups in an otherwise smooth release. Early reports were favorable with most users noting that transactions were processed quickly and easily. Its biggest limitation is distribution, with only large chain launch partners officially accepting the payment service. But as Apple Pay evolves, it will be interesting to see whether the NFC-equipped iPad Air 2 and small businesses will play a bigger role in Apple’s mobile payment plans.
Tim Cook was optimistic about Apple’s relationship with China following a meeting with top Chinese government officials in Beijing on Wednesday to discuss data privacy and security. Cook told China’s Xinhua news agency (Via Reuters) that he had “very open” talks with a senior official.
Chinese vice premier Ma Kai, a member of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau, met with the CEO of the world’s most valuable company on Wednesday morning. They had discussed a series of topics including privacy and security. Cook described it as “very open”, “fascinating” and “impressive”, but he declined specifics.
As part of the interview, Cook also confirmed Apple’s plan to launch Apple Pay and other technologies in China saying, “China is a really key market for us. Everything we do, we are going to work it here. Apple Pay is on the top of the list.” Cook spoke to Xinhua News during his 4-day-long trip to China, which saw the CEO also visit a Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou City.
China is an increasingly important market for the Cupertino company, which now has 16 percent of the smartphone market share behind Samsung (23 percent) and Xiaomi (21 percent). Apple plans to expand its presence even further in the country by opening 25 new stores in the next two years.
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.
According to reports on Twitter, Reddit and MacRumors forums, Amazon’s Visa Rewards card is now compatible with Apple Pay. Amazon reportedly enabled the feature today, moving quickly to bring the mobile payments service to consumers who were disappointed in Amazon for not supporting Apple Pay at launch.
Apple Pay launched on Monday with support from a large number of credit card companies and banks. Among the launch partners were Chase, which is the issuing bank for the Amazon Visa Rewards card. Amazon reportedly was the only Chase card not supporting Apple Pay, sparking rumors that the retailer was deliberately rebuffing Apple’s mobile payment efforts for competitive reasons.
Hey, Amazon Chase Visa cards now work with Apple Pay, complete with Amazon logo on the card and all. That was fast.
— Dave Rutledge (@_) October 24, 2014
Amazon dispelled these rumors by confirming it would enable Apple Pay soon, but few expected the rollout to happen so quickly. Customers with an Amazon Visa Rewards card should be able to add the credit card to Apple Pay with full support for mobile payments.