There are some good deals on Apple-related accessories this week, as well as some decent discounts on the Retina MacBook Pro and an iPad deal from Target that includes free gift cards.
Retina MacBook Pro
Like last week, several retailers are offering $100 to $150 off most Retina MacBook Pro models. The 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro with 4GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage is $1,199 at Amazon, Adorama, and B&H Photo. The 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage is $1,399 at Amazon, Adorama, and B&H Photo. The lower-end 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro with 8GB of memory and 256GB of storage is $1,849.99 at Amazon, Adorama, and B&H Photo, while the higher-end model with 16GB of memory and 512GB of storage is $2,449 at Amazon, Adorama, and B&H Photo.
Buying from Adorama and B&H Photo gives the benefit of no sales tax in many states, as these two stores only charge tax in New York/New Jersey and New York, respectively.
There aren’t many deals on the iMac this week, but both Adorama and B&H Photo are offering the 21.5-inch iMac with 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive for $1,349, a savings of $150 off the standard price.
Apple’s 11.6-inch MacBook Air with 4GB of RAM and 256GB of storage is available for $999 from Adorama, a savings of $100. The 13-inch MacBook Air with 256GB of RAM can be purchased at $1,099.99, a $100 savings, from Adorama or B&H Photo.
iPads and iPhones
Target is currently offering a $100 Target gift card for customers who purchase an iPad Air or a Retina iPad mini (WiFi or WiFi + Cellular) in any capacity. Though Target is charging full price at $499 and $399, respectively, the gift card is a good deal for regular Target customers.
Target is also offering a $20 Target gift card with the purchase of a 16GB iPhone 5s or 5c. The iPhone 5c is available from Target for $30 and the iPhone 5s is $100. Target’s deals last through July 12.
Jawbone’s Jambox speaker can be purchased via Groupon for $89, a discount of $21, while Meh.com is offering the JBL OnBeat Micro Speaker dock for $15. The Apple TV is available for $89 through Best Buy, a $10 discount.
This week marks the sixth anniversary of the App Store, and several developers are offering sales on their apps. Popular games like Threesand Monument Valley are available at low prices, so make sure to check out our anniversary post to get a look at all the deals.
Before making a purchase of a Mac or iOS device, make sure to consult our Buyer’s Guide to find out if it’s a good time to buy. For example, because the MacBook Air was updated in April, the Buyer’s Guide indicates that now is a good time to purchase.
MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors.
Samsung has spent the last several years trying to separate itself from the rest of the Android pack. Of course, that was much to the chagrin of Google. And while the two apparently reached an agreement to reduce the amount of bloat and branded services, Sammie is quite ready to give up on building its own ecosystem just yet. The company announced a major redesign and rebranding of its own app store, which is now known as Galaxy Apps. The goal, according to WonPyo Hong, president of the media solution center at Samsung Electronics, is to provide “differentiated solutions and services.” And that including delivering “hundreds of apps exclusively available to users of Samsung Galaxy mobile devices.” Though, what compelling apps are included in that and whether or not anyone will use them is still not exactly clear.
The move seems particularly interesting in light of Samsung’s apparent decision to hand over the reins of its enterprise friendly Knox project to Mountain View. Elements of the security suite are going to be incorporated into the next version of Android and security features for the OS will be entirely controlled by Google. But that leaves Sammie in a slightly awkward spot, it doesn’t want to be a commodity handset maker, but ways to stand out are increasingly hard to come by. Whether or not a streamlined, exclusive app store will be enough to do that is debatable. And there’s always the chance that this will rub Google the wrong way and lead to another round of tense negotiations between the maker of Android and its largest hardware partner.
With two Google-powered smartwatches currently on sale, and the circular Moto 360 already causing a stir among design geeks, wearables are one step closer to securing a place on our wrists. And while many of us aren’t ready to strap on a Gear Live, G Watch or Pebble just yet, that doesn’t mean the smartwatch is a new concept. In fact, depending on your definition of “smart,” these gadgets have been fusing time-telling with extra functionality since the early 20th century. From wrist-borne spy cams to radio-controlled timepieces, here’s a look at this wearable’s evolution.
Rovio has a new update awaiting your download. 30 new levels have been added to Angry Birds Star Wars 2, 15 for the bird side and 15 for the pork side. The new set of levels is called ‘ Master your destiny’ and allows you to pick from your saved characters or from telepod characters. This means you are in control of what bird, or pig, you toss at the opposing side.
Get ready to MASTER YOUR DESTINY! Start as a Jedi Youngling or Sith Hopeful and rise the ranks in this all-new chapter! This time you choose what bird or pig to sling into battle from your saved characters or by scanning your Telepods! Plus, it’s now free to download on both iOS and Android!
It seems there could be some confusion with that “Free to download on both iOS and Android” statement. While ABSWII has always had a free and paid option for the main app, it was the add-on levels that required a lot of work in collecting the slingshot coins or some real world cash to buy a bunch. The Master Your Destiny update is unlocked from the get go.
The post Angry Birds Star Wars 2 picks up 30 new levels in ‘Master Your Destiny’ Update appeared first on AndroidSPIN.
Google today updated its Google Maps app to version 3.2.0, adding several new functions to improve the utility of the app. Search results now appear with descriptions on the map to make choosing an option easier, and search results can be viewed on the map or on a list.
The locations of reservations and appointments drawn in from Gmail are also displayed directly on the map. While Google mentions Explore in the release notes to draw users to try the feature, the local point of interest feature is not new.
– Search results appear with descriptions right on the map, to help you make choices quickly
– View search results on the map or in a list and easily switch between them
– See your reservations and appointments from Gmail labeled on the map -Try the new Explore, a local guide that shows you different places and activities depending on the location and time of day
Rumors have suggested that Apple is using the sapphire garnered from its partnership with GT Advanced to produce sapphire crystal displays for the iPhone 6, and if true, such a move would normally inspire competitors to produce their own devices with sapphire displays.
It does not appear, however, that other major smartphone manufacturers are ready to adopt sapphire as a display solution, due to the expense of the material and its quality compared to the more popular Gorilla Glass.
Engadget, in an in-depth piece on sapphire displays, contacted multiple representatives from major smartphone companies, who had researched sapphire as a possible material and largely decided against it. LG, for example, said the material was too expensive.
“The cost and supply aren’t where we’d like them to be for sapphire to be practical just yet,” said Ken Hong, Global Communications Director for LG. “Sapphire’s durability and scratch-resistance are certainly attractive, but Gorilla Glass isn’t going to be displaced anytime soon.”
Sapphire is astronomically expensive compared to alternatives like Gorilla Glass, with a pane costing $30 compared to $3. Apple’s partnership with GT Advanced has allowed Apple to help fund advanced sapphire production methods that significantly lower manufacturing costs, however, a feat that most manufacturers will be unable to match.
A look at how GT Advanced produces sapphire
Sapphire is an appealing option due to its extreme hardness and its scratch resistance. Rated at a nine on the Mohs hardness scale, few materials aside from diamond can scratch sapphire, but as one representative pointed out, sapphire is highly brittle. “The sapphire is too hard to withstand bending. It’s easier to break during drop tests when the size of sapphire increases.”
Gorilla Glass manufacturer Corning has heavily criticized sapphire for the same reason, noting that its own product can withstand 2.5 times more pressure. Corning has also pointed out that Gorilla Glass is cheaper, far lighter, and more environmentally friendly as it takes less energy to produce. Sapphire also transmits less light, making it both dimmer and less clear unless specially treated.
Strength test conducted by Corning, showing sapphire shattering at 161 pounds while Gorilla Glass survives
Yet another representative suggested that sapphire simply doesn’t make sense except from a marketing standpoint, which would certainly work for Apple as a way to distinguish itself as a more luxury smartphone option. Apple has always stood out from other manufacturers with its insistence on quality over price, setting it apart as a premium brand.
Though rumors have indicated Apple is planning to use sapphire displays in its smartphones, it remains unclear if the iPhone 6 will indeed feature a sapphire screen. It is possible the company’s sapphire is reserved for a different project, the iWatch, and it is also possible, based on circulating rumors, that only the larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6 will be equipped with a sapphire display.
Either way, it’s likely we will get our first glimpse of an Apple product that utilizes sapphire crystal later this year and as Engadget points out, it is likely that manufacturers will take advantage of sapphire for products like smart watches, later transitioning to larger products as supply techniques and production improve.
Key display supplier Sharp is reportedly seeking to reduce its reliance on Apple, with sources telling Nikkei the company has offered Apple 30 billion yen ($293 million) to purchase the equipment located in Sharp’s Kameyama Plant No. 1 that currently churns out displays for the iPhone. Apple contributed roughly half of the 100 billion yen (~$1 billion) cost to convert the plant from large TV panels to small iPhone displays in 2012, with Apple owning the plant’s equipment.
By taking a leadership role in running the plant, Sharp apparently seeks to diversify its customer base. Being able to supply panels to Chinese smartphone manufacturers, for example, would make Sharp less dependent on Apple. The U.S. technology giant is said to be demanding that the Japanese company not supply panels to Samsung, Apple’s biggest smartphone rival.
According to the report, the plant is currently running at 90% capacity producing displays for the iPhone 6, giving Sharp some flexibility in the negotiations until demand from Apple starts to slow down with the natural cycle of iPhone production.
Apple typically sources its displays from several suppliers, and Apple’s main iOS device assembly partner Foxconn has reportedly been looking to partner with Sharp to begin some of its own production of iPhone and iPad displays. It is unclear how willing Apple will be to give up the display equipment, but if it does provide Sharp with some more flexibility there are still a number of display partners that could help fill any void left by Sharp’s diversification.
Reliance on Apple is major issue for many suppliers, both in terms of managing the cyclical nature of the business given Apple’s product release patterns and the potential for major disruptions of the companies’ revenue streams should Apple suddenly decide to change suppliers. As a result, it’s a delicate balancing act for many companies happy to have Apple’s business but looking for other opportunities to sustain themselves when Apple’s demand wanes.
Sapphire is the birthstone of September, the traditional gift on your 45th wedding anniversary and a material associated with both luxury and ruggedness. It can be found in opulent products like jewelry, camera lenses and fancy watches. Given that, it’s also one of the toughest materials in the world, which makes it ideal for military-grade items like aviation displays and even missiles. So when rumors emerged that a sapphire display may be featured on the next iPhone, a chorus of excitement followed. However, many phone manufacturers don’t share the same sense of optimism that Apple might hold toward this different kind of next-gen display.
Earlier this week, YouTube vlogger Marques Brownlee showed what appears to be a sapphire display for the next iPhone. While the use of sapphire won’t be confirmed (or denied) by Apple until the product is released, the idea that it would want to use the material in its next flagship smartphone isn’t too hard to believe: The company announced late last year that it partnered with leading sapphire producer GT Advanced Technologies to build a manufacturing facility in Arizona. And according to a report from 9to5mac, the deal included enough new equipment to make around 100 million to 200 million iPhone-sized displays per year.
There’s one major reason why manufacturers are looking into using sapphire displays: The material is strong. Very strong. Sapphire is about four times as tough as glass. Gorilla Glass, regularly found protecting current smartphone screens, fares pretty well against hard objects too, but in order to scratch sapphire, you’d need to find something higher than nine on the Mohs scale — a system of measurement used to rate mineral hardness from one to 10, with 10 being the highest. (For comparison, Gorilla Glass rates a seven; sandpaper is a nine; and diamond is a 10)
It’s no coincidence that existing sapphire display phones are incredibly expensive.
Using sapphire instead of glass for a smartphone display isn’t a groundbreaking concept. The material is already used in the (admittedly far smaller) protective glass covering the iPhone camera, as well as the 5s home button (for Touch ID); and luxury brands like Vertu, Savelli and TAG Heuer use sapphire displays in their existing phones. However, it’s no coincidence that existing sapphire display phones are incredibly expensive — manufacturing sapphire is time-intensive, limited by available quantity and very costly. The price of sapphire camera lens covers is 2.6 times higher than glass. On a large phone display, the difference in cost is even higher; last year, GT Advanced reps estimated the cost for a pane of Gorilla Glass at $3, while sapphire was around $30.
I reached out to multiple representatives from major smartphone players and while most companies I talked to had already researched and analyzed the possibility of using sapphire, their impressions were much more lukewarm than I expected. “The cost and supply aren’t where we’d like them to be for sapphire to be practical just yet,” said Ken Hong, Global Communications Director for LG. “Sapphire’s durability and scratch-resistance are certainly attractive, but Gorilla Glass isn’t going to be displaced anytime soon.”
“Right now, the cost doesn’t justify the nominal benefit of sapphire over Gorilla Glass”
There are plenty of other issues associated with sapphire. It’s heavier than Gorilla Glass and the material remains less transparent than glass, meaning it would be more difficult to see the screen unless manufacturers add a special coating to increase transparency. (Even then, it still wouldn’t be as good as glass.) Additionally, each representative I talked to confirmed that while sapphire is durable, it certainly isn’t unbreakable. In fact, the larger the display is, the more brittle it becomes; “The sapphire is too hard to withstand bending,” said a representative of a top-tier phone maker who also asked to remain anonymous. “It’s easier to break during drop tests when the size of sapphire increases.”
Another representative replied, “In a cost-benefit analysis, I doubt [using sapphire] makes sense, unless there is some perceived marketing advantage.” Despite the potential downfalls of using such a material, that’s exactly what Apple would be gunning for by using the display in the iPhone: marketing power. Sapphire’s got a solid reputation; if the new iPhone features the same material used in premium watches, necklaces and earrings, and the company can throw it in without raising the price to consumers, Apple has a great new way to distinguish itself from the competition.
Only large companies with enough resources and bargaining power will be able to secure enough sapphire for mass production.
Even if other phone makers wanted to use sapphire displays, it would be difficult for them to secure enough inventory due to a very limited supply — a problem that the iPhone maker has avoided. “Apple uses its massive cash hoard to fund big upfront commitments for key components,” said Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research. “[It’s] something that almost every other OEM but Samsung will struggle to do.” In other words, only large companies with enough resources and bargaining power will be able to secure enough sapphire for mass production.
This doesn’t mean that sapphire displays won’t be embraced in the future; they might just come in a different form. We wouldn’t be too surprised if multiple hardware manufacturers decided to use the material on smartwatches for now, since the screens — and the number of devices to build — would be much smaller and thus more affordable than smartphones. (The Moto 360, for example, is rumored to have a sapphire screen.) Then, as supply goes up and production becomes more cost-efficient, more doors may open for phone makers who want to give sapphire a shot.
Members of the United States House of Representatives and Senate — or, more likely, their interns and aides — spend an awful lot of time editing Wikipedia entries. Not just entries about themselves, either: the list ranges from autobiographical changes to this crucial edit involving President Barack Obama shaking hands with a minotaur. We’ll spare you the obvious, “so that’s what the United States Congress spends its time on!” joke (or was that it?), and jump right to the credit. A new Twitter account named “congressedits,” set up by self-described “web developer/armchair activist” Ed Summers, scans for Wikipedia edits across a variety of IP addresses associated with Congress. Summers got the idea from a similar robot in the United Kingdom. Other versions have since sprouted in Canada and Sweden.
“There is an incredible yearning in this country and around the world for using technology to provide more transparency about our democracies,” Summers wrote on his blog this week. While the tracking hasn’t revealed any bombshells thus far, we’re all for free, easy ways to make our elected officials’ actions even a smidgen more transparent. Summers is hoping for more from the project than more transparent government. Here’s his “thought experiment” take on the project:
“Imagine if our elected representatives and their staffers logged in to Wikipedia, identified much like Dominic (a federal employee at the National Archives) and used their knowledge of the issues and local history to help make Wikipedia better? Perhaps in the process they enter into conversation in an article’s talk page, with a constituent, or political opponent and learn something from them, or perhaps compromise?”
High-minded and idyllic? Sure, but that’s how we like our internet-based political action.
[Image credit: Shutterstock]
Today’s Digg is a completely different beast from the one we used to know, and that’s thanks to a new team that basically brought the brand back from the dead. Before that resurrecting act though, those folks worked on a social news app called News.Me and now they’ve another stab at that old formula with a feature called Digg Deeper. Here’s the formula in a nutshell: in addition to employing humans to curate the best stories from across the web, Digg Deeper will mine your Twitter feed (and eventually other social streams) to find content appreciated by people you actually care about. Yeah, yeah, you’re right — that sounds really generic. The Digg team elaborated on its secret sauce just a bit in a blog post, noting that the amount of Twitter attention needed to bring a story to your attention in Digg Deeper is based on how many people you follow. Alas, you normals can’t take it for a spin just yet — it’s currently only open to a handful of old (and loyal) News.Me users for now.
Source: Digg Blog