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Apple Placing Unprecedented Amount of iPhone 6 Orders, First Batch Estimated at 68 Million Units

Taiwan’s Business Weekly (Google Translate, via GforGames) reports that Apple has placed an extraordinary amount of orders for the iPhone 6 ahead of its launch this fall, which is said to be twice as large when compared to orders for the iPhone 5 in 2012.

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The paper also states that Apple’s first iPhone 6 order will consist of 68 million units, with the device finally entering mass production later this month. This is consistent with earlier rumors about the mass production of the 4.7-inch device, although it is unknown if this newest report is referring to joint production of the 4.7-inch and larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6.

Apple is likely pushing for a large initial order of the iPhone 6 in order to avoid the supply issues that surrounded the launches of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5. While some reports have suggested that Apple may launch the 5.5-inch version of the iPhone 6 after the 4.7-inch version due to issues with display technology and battery life, a recent report from Bloomberg suggested that both devices could launch simultaneously.

In addition to a larger display, both versions of the iPhone 6 will most likely feature a thinner, curved-edge casing along with a faster A8 processor and improved camera. Following the trends of the past two iPhone launches, it is also likely that Apple will reveal and launch the iPhone 6 in September.

TSMC Now Shipping A-Series Processors to Apple for Future iOS Devices

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Chip manufacturing company TSMC started shipping processors to Apple in Q2 2014, reports the Wall Street Journal. After exclusively sourcing its processors from Samsung, Apple last year struck a deal with TSMC that would see the manufacturer begin supplying A-series chips for Apple’s iOS devices.

Apple’s deal with TSMC is a win-win situation for both companies with Apple reducing its reliance on Samsung for iOS device components and TSMC receiving a boost financially from Apple’s hardware orders.

The development means Apple doesn’t have to rely solely on Samsung for microprocessors, a critical component that controls applications running in smartphones and tablets. By securing an additional supplier, Apple will have more leverage when it comes to price negotiations with its chip suppliers in the future. Through the deal, TSMC adds a high-profile customer that could help support expensive research investments the manufacturer needs to move to advanced technology and will likely boost its overall revenue this year, analysts said.

In line with previous reports, TSMC allegedly began mass producing chips for Apple using its 20-nanometer process earlier this year and is working with the company on future 16-nanometer designs. Apple also is rumored to be working with Samsung on next year’s A9 processor which could use a 14-nanometer design.

A Look at ‘Health’ and ‘HealthKit’, Apple’s New Health Initiative

Ahead of WWDC, perhaps one of the most hyped features for iOS 8 was “Healthbook,” which was said to serve as a Passbook-style app that aggregated a variety of health-related information in a colorful card array.

While Apple did indeed announce a new health initiative and accompanying app, “Healthbook” turned out to be off the mark. The app is called simply “Health,” and appears to differ a bit from how it was described in early rumors. According to Apple, Health is designed to be an “easy-to-read” dashboard of health and fitness data, which can pull in information from several different sources. “It might just be the beginning of a health revolution,” reads Apple’s iOS 8 Health page.

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Heart rate, calories burned, blood sugar, cholesterol — your health and fitness apps are great at collecting all that data. The new Health app puts that data in one place, accessible with a tap, giving you a clear and current overview of your health.

The Health app keeps track of several different health metrics measured by various devices, including heart rate, calories, cholesterol, and more. It also features an “emergency card” that includes all of a user’s important health information, including blood type and allergies, which can be displayed directly on the lock screen of an iOS device.

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As can be seen in screenshots of the app, it aggregates information into a selection of categories such as Diagnostics, Fitness, Lab Results, Medications, Nutrition, Sleep, and Vitals. Many of these categories can also be displayed on a dashboard chart, giving users an at-a-glance view of their overall health.

Accompanying Health is the HealthKit tool for developers, which can be incorporated into both new and existing health and fitness apps to allow them to access the health data stored within the Health app. Users are able to choose exactly what’s shared and can, potentially, choose to share data from a health-related app with a doctor. Apps can also be authorized to share information with each other. A nutrition app might share how many calories are consumed with a fitness app, for example.

According to Dr. John H. Noseworthy, CEO of the Mayo Clinic, Apple’s HealthKit has the potential to “revolutionize how the health industry interacts with people.” The Mayo Clinic is already working with Apple and HealthKit, creating an app that allows patients to monitor their blood pressure, sending alerts to doctors automatically.

Despite all of the focus on Apple’s health related initiative before WWDC, the company spent very little time going over the Health app. It is likely we’ll see an additional focus on Health in the coming months as it is likely to also integrate with Apple’s much-rumored wearable device, the iWatch. Health and HealthKit, both part of iOS 8, are available to developers today with a public release of the operating system expected in the fall.

Apple’s U.S. and Canadian Black Friday Sales Go Live Online With Gift Card Deals

Apple’s online stores for the United States and Canada have just come back online for Black Friday’s one-day shopping event, and, like its stores in Australia and New Zealand, the company is using bonus gift cards rather than discounts as customer incentives.

Apple’s European stores saw a more traditional discounted pricing scheme, with prices reduced on products directly, rather than offering a gift card promotion.

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Gift cards are offered with the purchase of the following items in the U.S.:

– iPad Air: $75 gift card
– iPad mini: $50 gift card on non-Retina models, no gift card on Retina models
– iPad 2: $50 gift card
– iPod touch: $50 gift card
– iPod nano: $25 gift card
– MacBook Air: $150 gift card
– MacBook Pro: $150 gift card for both Retina and non-Retina models
– iMac: $150 gift card
– Apple TV: $25 gift card
– AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule: $50 gift card

– Various accessories: Gift card amounts vary, including $50 for the Nest Thermostat, $25 for the Anki DRIVE Starter Kit, $25 for the Nike+ FuelBand, and $25 for the Automatic Smart Driving Assistant.

The discounts should run through the day today both on Apple’s online store and in its retail outlets across North America.

Deals from third-party retailers may be even better than Apple’s pricing for some customers, and we’ve summarized some of the best Mac and iPad deals over the past several days. We are also keeping track of deals on Apple products, accessories, software, and more in our Black Friday roundup.

Microsoft Bashes Apple’s iWork Software, New iPads

Microsoft’s corporate vice president of communications, Frank Shaw, today took to the Official Microsoft Blog to denounce both Apple’s revamped iWork software and the company’s well-received decision to distribute it as a free upgrade for existing users.

“Seems like the RDF (Reality Distortion Field) typically generated by an Apple event has extended beyond Cupertino,” writes Shaw, before launching into a long-winded rant that positions the Surface and the Surface 2 as better productivity devices, insinuating that Apple doesn’t understand productivity.

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That’s what Surface is. A single, simple, affordable device that helps you both lean in and kick back. Let’s be clear – helping folks kill time on a tablet is relatively easy. Give them books, music, videos and games, and they’ll figure out the rest. Pretty much all tablets do that.

But helping people be productive on a tablet is a little trickier. It takes an understanding of how people actually work, how they get things done, and how to best support the way they do things already.

The good news is that Microsoft understands how people work better than anyone else on the planet.

Shaw goes on to suggest that since iWork has never “gotten much traction”, Apple’s decision to provide both free upgrades and free software to new users was insignificant as it was “already priced like an afterthought” and it’s difficult to work on a device that “lacks precision input and a desktop for true side-by-side multitasking.” He also offers several bullet points that highlight the iPad’s shortcomings, following up with a statement that Microsoft has “built a better solution for people everywhere.”

- The Surface and Surface 2 are less expensive than the iPad 2 and iPad Air respectively, and yet offer more storage, both onboard and in the cloud.
– … come with full versions of Office 2013, including Outlook, not non-standard, non-cross-platform, imitation apps that can’t share docs with the rest of the world.
– … offer additional native productivity enhancing capabilities like kickstands, USB ports, SD card slots and multiple keyboard options.
– … include interfaces for opening multiple windows, either side by side or layered to fit the way most people actually work.

Shaw’s anti-iWork comments follow Apple’s own jabs at Microsoft, where Tim Cook took to the stage to question Apple’s competitors.

“Our competition is different. They’re confused. They chased after netbooks, now they’re trying to make PCs into tablets and tablets into PCs. Who knows that they’ll do next? I can’t answer that question, but I can tell you that we’re focused.”

Over the course of 2013, Microsoft has unsuccessfully attempted to position its Surface tablets as ideal productivity tools, continually highlighting the iPad’s inability to run multiple apps at once, its lack of accessories, its high price, and of course, its less popular productivity software.

Following a series of price cuts, Microsoft revealed that its Surface lineup had earned just $853 million for the company, less than the $900 million writedown the company took for the Surface RT. Nevertheless, Microsoft forged ahead to release a second Surface tablet, announcing the Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro in September.

Apple’s iPhone Activation Servers Again Experiencing Outage

Apple appears to be experiencing another problem with its systems today, as a number of MacRumors readers have reported they are unable to activate their new iPhones. Other reports are showing up on Twitter as the problems continue.

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An AT&T employee has told MacRumors that some Apple Retail Stores are sending customers to AT&T stores, but indicated that those locations are having similar activation issues.

There is no word yet on when users can expect the issue to be fully resolved, but a similar outage occurred two weeks ago.

Christian Bale Top Choice to Play Steve Jobs in Biopic Written by Aaron Sorkin

Director David Fincher, who is in talks to direct the Aaron Sorkin-scripted Steve Jobs biopic based on Water Isaacson’s biography, is hoping to cast Christian Bale in the leading role as Steve Jobs, reports TheWrap.

Though Fincher has not yet officially signed on to direct the film, he has allegedly said that he will take on the project if Christian Bale plays Steve Jobs. Bale has not been approached about the possible role, but he has reportedly been a front runner for the position due to his undeniable resemblance to Jobs.

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While Steve Jobs is a long way from Batman, Bale has been considered a prime contender to play the tech superhero since the project was first announced due to his physical resemblance to the Apple co-founder.

Bale has not been approached to play Jobs yet, as the actor is taking a step away from the business to spend time with his family now that he has wrapped the role of Moses in Ridley Scott’s “Exodus,” which is expected to have him back in the awards conversation after “American Hustle.”

David Fincher, who may direct the yet unnamed biopic, was the director behind The Social Network, another Silicon Valley-based film that won three Academy Awards and was nominated for five more, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Sorkin completed the script for the upcoming Jobs movie back in January, and the film is said to take place across three continuous 30-minute scenes at three different Jobs-led product launches.

The movie, which is still in the casting stages, has no set launch date at the current time.

Online Orders for iPhone 5s Begin at 12:01 AM Pacific Time on Friday, September 20

While Apple and its carrier partners launched pre-orders for the iPhone 5c today at 12:01 AM, the company is not offering pre-orders for the new iPhone 5s model, despite both models becoming available next Friday, September 20.

In an email sent out to Apple customers today promoting the start of iPhone 5c pre-orders, the company also confirmed that orders for the iPhone 5s will similarly go live at 12:01 AM Pacific Time on September 20. (In an apparent error, the company’s email says Pacific Standard Time, but Daylight Saving Time remains in effect until early November.)

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With no pre-order process for the iPhone 5s, orders will simply ship when they are ready, and supplies are expected to be tight.

For those who want to make sure they are able to obtain the iPhone 5s on launch day, Apple will be opening its retail stores at 8:00 AM local time to begin sales. Lines will undoubtedly be long as customers will likely be lining up early to give themselves the best chance at securing their preferred models.

Facebook Updates Newsfeed With Inspiration from Mobile Devices, Rolling Out Over Several Weeks

In a media event today, Facebook announced significant changes to the way its signature News Feed is displayed to users on desktop, smartphones and tablets.

The company has increased the size of shared images and video content, while also introducing several different sub feeds to allow readers to focus on certain content like photos, music, or pages you like. In addition, the newsfeed will have the same look and feel where its accessed, whether across the desktop, smartphone or tablet.

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Today we’re announcing a new version of Facebook designed to reduce clutter and focus more on stories from the people you care about. You see all the stories you saw in your News Feed before, but with a fresh new look. We’ve completely rebuilt each story to be much more vibrant and colorful and highlight the content that your friends are sharing. Photos, news articles, maps and events all look brighter and more beautiful.

Facebook is aiming to “give everyone in the world the best personalized newspaper we can,” according to founder Mark Zuckerberg. Users can sign up for a waiting list (scroll to the bottom) to get early access to the improved News Feed on the desktop, while smartphone and tablet versions will be rolling out over the next several weeks.

Note: MacRumors readers can “Like” MacRumors on Facebook to get our news updates in your Facebook feed.

Apple Wins Patent for Pressure-Sensitive Device Casings

Apple was today granted a 2009 patent application to allow users to control a device by pressing on, or squeezing, parts of the casing. An illustration in the patent shows potential touch-sensitive areas across a whole range of different devices:

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The patent, discovered by AppleInsider, combines two different methods of detecting and measuring the amount of pressure applied: one physical, the other electrical. The capacitance test, which works in a similar way to touchscreens, would enable the device to tell human touch apart from accidental pressure applied while the device was carried in a pocket or bag.

Sensors disposed within the housing, in some embodiments directly beneath the surface, can detect when deflection occurs, which in turn denotes stress or pressure. In some embodiments, the sensors are connected to a printed circuit board that can in turn illuminate a light or other indicator when a minimum amount of readable stress is applied … A processor can take the measurements with their corresponding deflection rates, and translate them into device actions. For example, a threshold stress level is reached when a user presses down on a certain area of a device’s housing. The processor determines that the capacitance change is outside the bounds of normal readings and can trigger a UI event or other device feature in response. The system can be customized to detect patterns and varied sensitivities to support a broad range of tasks.

Apple patents a great many technologies it never uses, either as potential solutions that are later rejected or to protect against competitor use, although the metal casing of the iPhone 5 could make the system practical on any future iPhone models with a similar casing.

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