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Sapphire Production Underway in Arizona, Small Quantities Shipped to Apple Partners

Apple’s sapphire crystal partner GT Advanced has begun sapphire production and has even shipped small quantities of the material to an Apple partner in China responsible for making sapphire covers, according to a report from analysts at UBS Research.

Sapphire production is said to have begun last month, in March, but it appears the facility is not yet running at full capacity. GT Advanced reportedly shipped 2,200kg of sapphire, the amount produced by approximately 100 furnaces.

The company is said to be on schedule to install another 400 to 500 furnaces in the first quarter of 2014 and an additional 900 to 1,000 in the second quarter, significantly ramping up production towards the end of the year ahead of the release of both the iPhone 6 and the iWatch.


We estimate GT’s shipment to China was only about $1M worth of sapphire last month. We believe this Apple partner needs to be receiving sapphire totalling about $50M+ per month to confirm that the GT Arizona fab is running at close to full utilization.

GT Advanced’s sapphire production plant, which is financed by Apple, uses large capacity furnaces that emphasize lower cost, higher volume sapphire manufacturing. While Apple currently sources sapphire from a number of other suppliers for use in iPhone elements like the protective cover over the cameras and the home button of the iPhone 5s, GT Advanced’s operation will produce much higher quantities of the material, leading many to believe Apple has big plans for sapphire.

Thus far, rumors have suggested that Apple may be planning to use sapphire crystal displays in its upcoming iPhone 6, due to the superior durability and scratch resistance of the material. A recent report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggested supplies could be limited, however, resulting in only some models of the iPhone 6 produced using sapphire.

Sapphire may be a key component of Apple’s upcoming smart watch, as it could prevent the device from becoming scratched even with heavy use. Many high end luxury watches also use sapphire crystal displays.

Reports have indicated that GT Advanced has purchased enough sapphire furnace and chamber systems to produce between 100 and 200 million sapphire displays, enough for its entire line of devices should it continue to meet its production timeline.


Significant Discounts on 2013 MacBook Airs Following Refresh [Mac Blog]

With the release of updated 11 and 13-inch MacBook Air models, multiple retailers have begun dropping the price on older versions of the MacBook Air. Because the only upgrade to the 2014 MacBook Air is a slightly improved processor, the lower prices on 2013 MacBook Air models are appealing to consumers looking for a deal.

We’ve gathered up some of the best price cuts ($200 off) on Apple’s 2013 MacBook Air lineup, which can be seen below. Note that the $200 off represents the discount from the 2013 prices. Apple themselves, discounted the new 2014 MacBook Airs by $100. So this gives you a $100 savings for a new 2013 MacBook Air which performs nearly on par with the new 2014 models.

11-inch 1.3GHz i5 MacBook Air, 4GB RAM & 128 GB flash storage (MD711LL/A):

$799, B&H Photo
$799, Best Buy
$844, MacMall

11-inch 1.3GHz i5 MacBook Air, 4GB RAM & 256 GB flash storage (MD712LL/A):

$999, B&H Photo
$999, Best Buy
$1,044, MacMall

13-inch 1.3GHz i5 MacBook Air, 4GB RAM & 128 GB flash storage (MD760LL/A):

$899, B&H Photo
$899, Best Buy

13-inch 1.3GHz i5 MacBook Air, 4GB RAM & 256 GB flash storage (MD761LL/A):

$1,099, B&H Photo
$1,099, Best Buy
$1,144, MacMall

Some of the lowest prices on Apple’s older products come from Apple itself – in the online refurbished store. Currently, the store lists an entry-level 2013 11-inch MacBook Air for $719, and an entry-level 2013 13-inch MacBook Air for $799, but stock is always limited and these deals often go quickly.

Apple has been selling a 2012 11-inch MacBook Air for as low as $599, but all models are currently sold out. The best way to get a deal from the refurbished store is to check stock on a regular basis.

For those looking for one of the newly updated MacBook Air models, those start at $899 for the 11-inch version and $999 for the 13-inch version, with stock available directly from the Apple Online Store. Sales tax will vary depending on which vendor you order from. B&H Photo, for example only charges sales tax in New York.

MacRumors is affiliate partners with some of these vendors


Minecraft creator’s latest game trades blocks for existential angst

While the game’s intro tells us, “There is nothing,” there is a lot more to the little word game beneath the surface. Drowning in Problems is in fact Minecraft creator Markus Persson’s entry in Ludum Dare. The contest is an accelerated game-development event where programmers create a game in a weekend based on a theme chosen by the community. The theme for this event, Ludum 29, was: beneath the surface. The game is set up with awards and costs: You start with nothing and by clicking Solve, you’ll become not nothing. Clicking again gives you hope; hope gives way to a body; and you are born. The game continues this way, gradually growing in complexity as you give up things you’ve solved to advance in life, get a job, meet a lover and grow. From start to finish, it takes about 10 minutes to complete if you button smash, much longer if you take the time to follow the — decidedly glum — narrative. Hit up the link below to play it through, or, if you’d rather follow on to Ludum Dare to get the source code and learn more. And with that you’ll have to excuse us as we take a bit of time to kill off some Creepers and Zombies to cheer ourselves up.

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Source: Drowning in Problems


Engadget HD Podcast 396 – 4.30.14

Net neutrality is still on the table for discussion this week and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler even wants to hear your opinion on the situation. Ben and Richard share their two cents on the issue and continue to cover all the cozying up between companies including ISPs and content providers. Hulu, on the other hand, is exhibiting some self control and cracking down on international viewers who are sneaking a peek via VPNs. And those who haven’t been streaming or watching TV at all lately may have missed Neil deGrasse Tyson’s informative Cosmos reboot. But have no fear, if you prefer the offline experience of physical discs, it will soon be arriving to Blu-ray and DVD. If it’s enlightenment you’re after, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got all this and more on this week’s episode of the Engadget HD Podcast!

Hosts: Richard Lawler, Ben Drawbaugh

Producer: Jon Turi

Hear the podcast:

02:22 – FCC Chairman Wheeler talks tough on defending net neutrality, broadband competition and paid peering deals
12:25 – FCC claims it hasn’t abandoned net neutrality at all, opens a new inbox for comments
16:32 – Comcast proposes giving up 3.9 million customers to clinch its TWC merger
20:16 – Netflix gets specific about its battle with Comcast and opposition to the TWC merger
23:36 – Netflix pays to play with Verizon, too
30:01 – Netflix finally comes to cable boxes in the US, but probably not the one you have
34:02 – Hulu Plus adds phone and tablet remote control to PS3, PS4 and Xbox One apps
35:45 – Hulu attempts to block international viewers who use VPNs
41:43 – Samsung’s giving you more to watch on that ridiculously expensive 4K TV
42:56 – Xbox Entertainment Studios has at least 12 projects in production, committed to half
44:25 – Amazon will add older HBO shows to Prime Instant Video, HBO Go to Fire TV
47:28 – ‘Cosmos’ brings Neil deGrasse Tyson’s moustache to Blu-ray and DVD in June
50:52 – Must See HDTV for the week of April 29th: Daylight, Vikings
52:40 – The new Engadget: It’s all about you… except when it’s about us

Get the podcast:

[iTunes] Subscribe to the Podcast directly in iTunes (MP3).
[RSS – AAC] Enhanced feed, subscribe to this with iTunes.
[RSS – MP3] Add the Engadget HD Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator.


Contact the podcast:

Connect with the hosts on Twitter: @rjcc, @bjdraw

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Lightroom mobile review: Adobe brings (most of) its digital darkroom to the iPad

Talk about timing. Almost as soon as I convinced myself I could use an iPad Air in my life, Microsoft and Adobe made my day with mobile versions of two of my most-used PC/Mac programs — Office and Lightroom. Not long after Microsoft revealed an iPad version of Office, Adobe followed up with a tablet-friendly version of its popular Lightroom photo editor. Like Office for iPad, Lightroom mobile (its official name) is more workflow companion than PC replacement, letting photographers experiment with images from anywhere there’s an internet connection before finalizing projects back at home base.

With a number of solid photo editors already available for the iPad, though, the free-to-download Lightroom mobile needs to offer some unique advantages if Adobe hopes to lure folks into its subscription-based Creative Cloud service. Is the new app up to the task? I added it to my regular photo-editing workflow to find out.

Getting started

Adobe’s emphasis on Lightroom mobile as a companion rather than a standalone app is evident from the get-go. Before I could do anything else, the app asked me to update my desktop edition of Lightroom to version 5.4 and sync a collection. The 5.4 update adds a new checkbox option in the Collections menu, allowing users to choose which photos to sync with Lightroom mobile.

One of the biggest obstacles when it comes to serious photo editing on a tablet is the lack of storage space — especially on non-expandable slates like the iPad. The RAW image format preferred by many photographers produces files that are generally many times larger than a compressed JPEG version of the same image, and those larger files add up quickly. My Fujifilm X-E2, for example, churns out RAW images that average around 31MB each. A single photo shoot resulting in 100 shots would take up about three gigs of space — a significant bit of real estate on, say, a 16GB iPad.

Thankfully, Adobe leverages its cloud services to provide a workaround it calls Smart Previews — stand-ins for the original RAW images that are much smaller in size, but still allow for the non-destructive tinkering that makes RAW-image editing so appealing in the first place.

When you sync a Collection on your desktop, a Smart Preview is created from the original RAW file and uploaded to the cloud. Adobe points out that these uploads do not count against the 20GB of Creative Cloud storage it offers. Once those smaller files are in the cloud, Lightroom mobile downloads them and you’re free to do some finger-based photo editing.

I synced a recent photo excursion through downtown Tacoma, Washington, and waited for the 50-shot Collection to appear on my 64GB iPad Air. It took roughly seven minutes for the photos to upload and then for Lightroom mobile to download the smaller Smart Preview files. Adobe says the size of Smart Preview photos varies depending on the camera used, but most should fall within 1MB to 2MB. Its internal testing with an X-E2 resulted in roughly 1MB files. With the images loaded on my iPad, it took anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds for changes I made on the iPad to reflect on the desktop side, and vice versa.


Once you have a Collection of photos to edit, it’s time to get to work. Lightroom mobile’s UI apes the desktop version by putting most of the emphasis on the images themselves. The main screen features large tiles representing any Collections you have synced with the app. Once you pick a Collection, you head to a thumbnail gallery of photos contained within. Pick a single photo and you arrive at a minimalistic editing panel.

In this editing section, four small icons sit below the selected image. When you choose one of them, the photo scales back slightly to make room for a ribbon of options depending on the icon you picked. From left to right, you can: call up a strip of thumbnails for other photos in the Collection; open the adjustments panel to tweak white balance and other options; apply built-in presets; and crop and rotate images.

Managing and editing photos are done using a mixture of gestures and toggling pop-up sliders. In general, simple, binary actions like flagging/unflagging an image or doing a quick before/after comparison are handled with swiping gestures. Finer edits like adjusting color temperature or exposure levels are controlled with pop-up rulers that span the width of the screen. These full-length sliders offer a solid level of precision for a finger-friendly device, allowing me to, say, change the Exposure Value from 1.00 to 1.01 without much fuss.

I like the overall design of the app, especially the uncluttered UI that keeps the photos front and center as much as possible. Unfortunately, there are a few key options missing from this mobile version — omissions that reinforce its companion-app status.

Of these shortcomings, the most serious might be a lack of synced user presets. Lightroom mobile ships with the same built-in presets as its big brother, but many professional photogs have developed their own, fine-tuned presets to get just the right look. On the bright side, changes made via user presets on the desktop version do show up in Lightroom mobile, but those looking to quickly apply their signature styles on the go are out of luck. Their absence on the mobile version likely means most will use the iPad app for general experimentation and leave the fine-tuning for when they get back to their workstations.

That “rough draft now, final draft later” approach is echoed elsewhere in the app, including its minimal export options. You can share images via AirDrop or apps like Messages and Twitter. Photos can also be saved to the Camera Roll or sent to a printer. When I exported a few images to the Camera Roll, I was left with roughly 2.8MP JPEGs at just over 300KB in size. Compare that to the 16-megapixel JPEGs my Fuji X-E2 natively writes and it’s clear that Lightroom mobile isn’t meant for exporting final images to your paying clients — especially those with specific demands for PPI and dimensions.

Lightroom mobile also lacks more advanced curve adjustments and local editing (for making spot corrections rather than image-wide changes). To tweak those aspects, you’re just going to have to wait until you’re back at your computer.

In actual use, my 64GB iPad Air has little trouble handling every edit I can throw at it. Adjustments and presets generally appear a second or two after I select them, sometimes with a low-res, placeholder version of the photo standing in until the changes are fully applied. Moving from one adjustment menu to another is also brisk, and the app responds to gestures consistently. Stability — much appreciated on a casual tablet game, but absolutely crucial on a productivity app — is generally solid. In the two-plus weeks I’ve been using Lightroom mobile, I’ve had three crashes (all occurring when switching from one editing menu to another), but I don’t work in fear of it failing at any moment.

The competition

There’s clearly no shortage of photo editors for the iPad, including Snapseed (a personal favorite) and Adobe’s own Photoshop Express. Most of these, however, treat the tablet as the focal point for image editing and sharing, whether it’s on Facebook, Instagram or countless other avenues of expression.

Lightroom mobile, on the other hand, is very much an add-on — a sidekick to a much more powerful program. It’s based on the premise that users will want to finish tweaking images on their workstations with their color-calibrated displays and gobs of external storage. As a standalone photo editor, then, a free app like Snapseed seems to make much more sense than Lightroom mobile. But, again, that doesn’t seem to be the goal Adobe had in mind here.


Those looking to fully rid themselves of a PC/Mac environment won’t find a complete solution in Lightroom mobile. Like the iPad version of Microsoft’s Office suite, Adobe’s photo editor is both designed and priced to be a companion to more fully featured desktop apps. Also like Office, Lightroom mobile’s appeal strongly depends on how much you’re tied into its desktop companion and the cloud. If you’re a frequent Lightroom user and already signed up with Adobe’s Creative Cloud services (which currently start at $10 a month), downloading the free mobile app is a no-brainer. It may not be a vital part of your photography workflow, but it could come in handy if inspiration strikes when you’re nowhere near your computer.

For anyone on the fence about Adobe’s subscription plans, Lightroom mobile’s 30-day trial should give you plenty of time to see if it’s worth incorporating into your workflow. More casual photographers may find better value in standalone apps that aren’t dependent on the cloud or tethered to more fully featured desktop versions. Lightroom lifers, however, now have a surprisingly capable companion at their disposal.

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This $14,000 vacuum-powered brewer aims to make the perfect cup of tea

Here at Engadget HQ, most of us are used to the concept of heating a kettle or catching water from the office cooler in order to make a cup of tea. For true leaf aficionados, a more elaborate setup may be required, and that’s where the Bkon Craft Brewer comes in. Using Reverse Atmospheric Infusion (RAIN) technology, the unit’s vacuum process extracts “the optimal flavor elements” of loose-leaf tea, though it can also be used for coffee and even infused cocktails. The machine is efficient too, cranking out a cup in less than a minute and over 60 per hour — all while storing up to 200 presets. You know, once you fine tune those recipes and ratios. To keep things tidy at the end of each cycle, the brew chamber cleans itself so you won’t have to, however Uncrate reports that the price tag will tick $14,000 when it arrives. For now, there’s a quick explanation of that RAIN-powered brewing process after the break.

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Via: Uncrate

Source: Bkon


Mercedes’ first electric vehicle for the US has a Tesla heart and plenty of muscle

I shouldn’t be imagining the sound of crickets when test-driving a brand new Mercedes, but that’s exactly what happened to me this week with the company’s B-Class Electric. In this case, however, it’s actually a good thing: the new US-bound EV, which should be hitting Stateside this summer for $41,450, is practically quiet enough for me to hear the nocturnal insects while driving. It’s not going the most stunning car on the road, but as the first full electric vehicle from Mercedes to hit US show floors, it’s got enough appeal and oomph to be worth taking a closer look at.

If the name sounds familiar, it’s because it’s based on the standard B-Class model, a compact vehicle which is currently featured in Europe. The Electric shares the same structural design, and is even built on the same assembly line. It’s a front-wheel drive that comes equipped with a Tesla-made drivetrain and, as a result, offers 177 horsepower and plenty of torque.

Muscle’s great, but the B-Class Electric sadly doesn’t do much to reduce range anxiety. Boasting a 28kWh battery, the car has an estimated range of 85 miles on a full charge (compared to 100 on the BMW i3 and 103 on the RAV4), but you can at least get 60 miles if you leave it on a 240v charger for two hours; a full charge takes 3.5 hours. This likely isn’t enough to satisfy any road-tripper, but it’s ideal if you’re not planning on leaving the city very often. As a sidenote, you won’t be able to access Tesla’s charging network, despite the company’s influence on the car’s drivetrain. (It can be charged from a standard 110v household charger, though this method will take between 28 and 30 hours.)

The car offers two modes: Economy and Sport. The former is focused on conserving power, so it takes longer to get it up to highway speeds; the latter gives you much more zippy acceleration off the line, and Mercedes says the B-Class Electric will get up to 60mph in 7.9 seconds. And as I mentioned earlier, it manages to be punchy while staying incredibly smooth and quiet. During my 20-minute drive, I never felt like I had to compromise on comfort or utility by using an electric vehicle. However, in the case you get in a really sporty mood, don’t get any wild ideas — the car’s electronically limited to a max speed of 100mph.

The B-Class Electric has a few different safety features (such as assistance for collision prevention, lane keeping, parking and blind spots), but one option that stands out is adaptive brake assist. This gives you three modes for braking, each with a different degree of kickback and energy regeneration. D+ coasts just like a regular automatic; D adds a little kickback to help you slow down faster without having to use your brakes, and D- is even stronger. This not only helps you brake more efficiently, it also lets you boost power by converting kinetic energy into electric current, which ideally should add a few extra precious miles to your range. (This ought to be the most helpful if you’re in the city and braking frequently.) There’s a set of paddles on the back of the steering wheel you can use to switch back and forth between modes, and if you do it right, you could control the pace of your car this way if you’re driving downhill.

Mercedes doesn’t skimp on connectivity — quite the opposite, in fact. In addition to the mbrace2 tech suite and DriveStyle setup, which adds iOS and Android compatibility to the 5.8-inch dashboard display through a special app (Pebble smartwatches are also compatible), it comes with remote monitoring features. You’ll be able to access your car from a PC or smartphone to see how much of a charge it has or adjust the climate control a few minutes before you hop in the car. Overall, in terms of first impressions, Mercedes’ first US attempt at an electric vehicle turned out pretty well.

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Pushbullet receives major update including cards UI, pushing to multiple devices, and more!


If you’ve never used the handy app called Pushbullet, maybe now is the time to start. Android users should look out for a pretty hefty update in the Play Store beginning today.


Visual enhancements

The update to v.14 brings a new cards UI, making it a bit easier to read and adds a cleaner look. Swipe to the right to see devices that you’ve pushed to, and tap on a device to show only pushes from that device.

This update also brings a new tablet UI and a revamped home screen/lock screen widget to closely resemble the Gmail widget.

Pushing improvements

When you’d like to share something with Pushbullet, you’d usually click “Push this”, then be whisked off into the app. There is now a feature that pulls up a box for you to complete your action, without ever taking you out of your app. Very handy!

You can also push items to all devices simultaneously – a feature that many have been waiting to see.

Mirroring toggles are much improved, and they’ve improved Tasker support.

These are just a few of the listed improvements for version 14. Head to the Play Store to download it today!

Source: Pushbullet

The post Pushbullet receives major update including cards UI, pushing to multiple devices, and more! appeared first on AndroidGuys.


Motorola to Unveil New Phone on May 14th at Event in London


Motorola is far from dead my friends. Even though it seemed that anyone that owned a Moto X felt like Google walked up and kicked their dog when the Lenovo acquisition of Motorola took place. Motorola assured us that the Moto X line wasn’t dead, and we have seen some hints that the follow-up will be unveiled any day now. That day may be May 14th, as Motorola has sent out invites stating that they will be unveiling a brand-new phone on this day.

The event will take place in London, and you can bet that the budget-friendly Moto E will grace its presence on the stage, possibly alongside the Moto X follow-up. The name that has been thrown around has been the Moto X + 1,which has been leaked a few times by Mr. evleaks.  So I guess we will have to wait a couple weeks to see what Motorola has in store for us. Let us know your thoughts about this new event.

Source: Engadget

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New Motorola phone to be announced May 13


Adding to previous snippets of an upcoming entry-level Moto phone, Motorola has sent out invites to announce a new phone that promises it’s “made to last” and “priced for all”. The announcement will take place in London on May 13; the common belief is that is going to the be rumored Moto E. We will find out for sure in two weeks!

Source: The Next Web


The post New Motorola phone to be announced May 13 appeared first on AndroidGuys.

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