Sunday, August 31, 2014

Apple Partnering With American Express on iPhone Mobile Payments Initiative

Apple Partnering With American Express on iPhone Mobile Payments Initiative [Updated]

Apple's rumored mobile payments initiative appears to be coming closer to launch, with Re/code reporting the company has reached a deal to partner with American Express.
Apple has reached an agreement with American Express to work together on its new iPhone payments system, according to sources familiar with the talks. American Express is one of several partners Apple will need to sign up before it can launch its new payments plan, which sources say it plans to announce at its September 9 product event.
Apple was previously reported to have been in negotiations with Visaover the effort, which is said to leverage the upcoming iPhone 6. Just days ago, a logic board leak revealed the near field communications (NFC) chip destined for the iPhone 6 and which will presumably play an important role in enabling the mobile payments functionality. 

easypay_concept
EasyPay mobile payments concept by Ricardo Del Toro

With Apple's extensive database of credit card numbers linked to iTunes Store accounts and new security technology such as Touch ID built into the iPhone, the company is strongly positioned to leverage those assets for widespread adoption of mobile payments. The effort naturally requires partnerships with credit card processors and retailers, but the pieces do appear to be falling into place just ahead of next week's media event. 

Update 5:19 PM: A new report fromBloomberg also claims that Apple will also be teaming with Visa and MasterCard in addition to American Express for its mobile payments initiative, which will be unveiled at Apple's media event on September 9.

4.7-Inch iPhone 6 Built From Parts Supports Theory of 1334 x 750 Display

4.7-Inch iPhone 6 Built From Parts Supports Theory of 1334 x 750 Display

Yesterday, we shared a video and some photos from Feld & Volk[Instagram page] apparently showing a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 built from partsactually booting to the "Connect to iTunes" recovery mode screen. 

Tweet  Yesterday from developer Steven Troughton-Smith points out that the graphics shown on the display during this booting process "*seem* to confirm" John Gruber's arguments in favor of the device being equipped with a 1334 x 750 display at the same 326 pixels per inch density of previous Retina displays. More specifically, the evidence points toward an approximately 667 x 375 point display, which would presumably arrive in the form of a 2x Retina display at 1334 x 750 as Gruber suggests. 

Sparked by Troughton-Smith's observation, we have independently examined photos of the booting device provided to us by Feld & Volk and come to the same conclusion. 

iPhone 6 (left) and iPhone 5s (right) shown booting to recovery mode. Letterboxing on iPhone 6 visible below Lightning cable.

The method relies on the fact that the "Connect to iTunes" image does not completely fill the display on the iPhone 6, with the Lightning cable ending above the bottom edge of the screen whereas on current iPhones it extends all the way to the edge. Assuming this "letterboxing" is due to the image not being optimized for the larger iPhone 6 display, it would correspond to the image filling an area equivalent to a 4-inch screen centered on the device's 4.7-inch display. 

This would account for the margin of black seen between the cable and the bottom of the display, and measuring the ratio of the space (plus a presumed equal one at the top) to the overall display size should yield an approximation of how much larger the viewable area is in points on the iPhone 6. 

4.7-inch iPhone 6 display showing apparent letterboxed areas (red) with image optimized for 4-inch display (blue) 
(Click for larger)

By our calculations, the border areas not covered by the image together suggest that the iPhone 6 display carries approximately 17.5% more points in the vertical dimension than a current 4-inch display. This would move the current 568-point height of the iPhone 6 (1136 pixels at 2x Retina) to 667 points (1334 pixels assuming 2x Retina) on the iPhone 6. 

Assuming the aspect ratio of the screen remains the same as in the iPhone 5s, which by all indications it does, this would mean a 667 x 375 point (1334 x 750 pixels Retina) display for the iPhone 6. Performing the calculation in the horizontal dimension is more difficult due to nature of the recovery mode image, with no portion of the visible graphics extending to the side edge of the overall image to determine how much letterboxing space is on the sides. 

Some observers have questioned the legitimacy of the video given the unfamiliar gear icon at initial startup and the blue iTunes logo that does not match the new red logo used on iOS 8, but Troughton-Smith notes the device is likely simply running Apple'sBurnIn tool rather than full iOS 7 or 8.

This analysis obviously addresses only the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 that Feld & Volk has acquired parts for. Gruber suggests the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 will likely contain a 2208 x 1242 display at a sharper 3x factor than the current 2x Retina. As pointed out by developer James Thomson and9to5Mac, the current iOS 8 beta is indeed showing some behavior indicating a preference for displaying 3x images when available.

Friday, August 29, 2014

NFC Chip From NXP Confirmed for iPhone 6


With rumors claiming the iPhone 6 will include a near field communications (NFC) chip from NXP to potentially support a mobile payments initiative from Apple flying in recent days, the existence of the chip now appears to have been confirmed. Russian luxury modified iPhone vendor Feld & Volk, which has shared a number of claimed parts from the iPhone 6 in recent weeks, has now gotten its hands on a complete logic board for the device. 
iphone_5s_6_logic_boards
iPhone 5s logic board (left) and 4.7-inch iPhone 6 logic board (right)

The firm has shared a few photos of the logic board with Sonny Dickson, revealing the board's NFC chip from NXP. 
iphone_6_nfc_board
Apple has confirmed that it will be holding a media event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino on September 9, and the company is naturally expected to introduce the iPhone 6 at the event with a launch coming shortly after. Apple is also said to be showing off its wearable device, commonly referred to as the iWatch, although it is unclear when that device will be available for sale.

Apple's Upcoming Wearable Device Not Likely to Ship Until Early 2015


iwatch_concept_setWhile Apple is expected to unveil its new wearable device, popularly referred to as the iWatch, at its media event scheduled for September 9, the device will likely not begin shipping until early next year, according to Re/code.
Sources in position to know tell me it won’t arrive at market for a few months. “It’s not shipping any time soon,” said one. So when does Apple plan to ship its eagerly anticipated wearable? That’s not clear, but my understanding is that we’re unlikely to see it at retail until after the holiday season — think early 2015.
Word of a significant gap between unveiling and launch is not a surprise, considering the company's history when entering new product segments. The iPhone and iPad both launched a number of months after their unveilings. With no existing Apple product of its type to see sales plummet ahead of a launch, Apple has more flexibility to announce early and ship somewhat later. 

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is among those who recently reported that a 2015 launch is likely for the iWatch, also having predicted last month that production on the device would not begin until November. Part leaks for the device have also been non-existent, supporting the notion that production has not yet begun. 

Apple's September 9 event is expected to focus on the iPhone 6, with the iWatch sharing the stage. Early rumors had suggested Apple was looking to show off the iWatch in October, but it may have altered its plans to better position the device as an iPhone accessory rather than a standalone product. 

(Image: 2.5-inch iWatch concept by SET Solutions)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Apple Building Massive Structure at Flint Center for iPhone 6 Event

Apple today issued invitations for its upcoming iPhone 6 event on September 9, which is also said to include its much-anticipated wearable device. According to the invitations, Apple is planning to host the event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts at De Anza College in Cupertino, the same location where Steve Jobs introduced the original Mac 30 years ago. 

For the occasion, it appears that Apple has been building a massive structure on the campus, which has been kept under tight wraps with a white barricade. A MacRumorsreader has sent in images of a mysterious structure at the Flint Center, which appears to span three stories and is protected by "scads" of security people. Administrators had previously declined to comment on what the structure is for, stating only "We are not at liberty to discuss that due to client wishes." 
flintcenter
Image of mysterious structure taken on August 20

Apple has not held an event at the Flint Center in many years, so the company's return to the site of the original Mac unveiling suggests its upcoming announcement will be a major one. The Flint Center has a much higher seating capacity than other venues where Apple has unveiled products in the past, including the Yerba Buena Center and its own Cupertino campus. 

Earlier this year, Apple iTunes chief Eddy Cue said that Apple's got the "best product pipeline" he'd seen in his 25 years at the company in the works, and Tim Cook promised "really great stuff" in new product categories

Despite the cryptic "Wish we could say more" message on the media invitations, rumors have suggested Apple is planning to unveil both the iPhone 6 and a new wearable device at the September 9 event. 

It is unknown whether Apple has plans to broadcast the event on the web and Apple TV as it has done for recent events,