Apple’s AirPower wireless charging pad will reportedly ship in March

Apple’s wireless charging pad, dubbed AirPower, will likely ship in March, according to a new report from the generally reliable Japanese blog MacOtakara. While Apple pre-announced the multi-device Qi charging accessory last September with an ambiguous 2018 release date, the blog suggests that its development cycle may have been prolonged due to special challenges in charging the Apple Watch Series 3.

AirPower is designed to simultaneously refuel 2017 or newer iPhones and Apple Watches, as well as 2016 AirPods when the devices are placed inside an upcoming wireless charging case. Although the concept seems simple — place up to three devices wherever you want on the white pill-shaped surface — the engineering was apparently difficult. For one thing, iPhones demand more power than AirPods and Apple Watches, and any of the devices might be placed anywhere on the pad.

MacOtakara suggests that extra engineering was needed to enable Apple Watch Series 3 charging using the Qi-based AirPower. The Apple Watch’s convex back was originally designed only to charge with non-Qi concave magnetic chargers, versus a flat Qi surface. AirPower apparently uses a special radio signal to detect the latest Apple Watch and enable it to charge over Qi — a feature that “can be used only by Apple,” according to the report.

Apple has not divulged pricing for AirPower, but some have speculated that the pad may sell for an astounding $ 199, based on a placeholder price listed last November on a Polish website. The Apple Store currently sells Apple-made wireless Apple Watch charging cables for $ 29 and third-party wireless iPhone charging pads for $ 60, suggesting that a three-device charger would likely go for less. AirPower is expected to be available simultaneously in Apple and third-party retail stores.

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Apple reportedly plans AirPods with Hey Siri, water resistance, and new chip

Apple is working on at least two new versions of its wireless AirPods earphones, according to a Bloomberg report this morning, with plans to release one as early as this year, and the second as early as next year. Each of the new models is expected to bolster existing features rather than radically changing the current, apparently successful formula.

Developed under the code name B288, the first new AirPods version is said to let users evoke Siri by saying “Hey Siri” rather than tapping on the earphone’s stem. It’s unclear whether Apple’s AI assistant Siri will gain additional functionality for AirPods or largely continue to be used for changing tracks, volume, and play/pause status.

B288 will also include “an upgraded Apple-designed wireless chip for managing Bluetooth connections.” The current AirPods model uses Apple’s W1 wireless chip, delivering five hours of battery life on a charge, and is compatible with Bluetooth 4. Apple has recently added Bluetooth 5 to recent iPhones and the HomePod, suggesting that the new AirPods will follow the same path.

The second new AirPods model will be designed to “survive splashes of water and rain” but is not intended for full submersion in water. Current AirPods are generally capable of withstanding sweat when used for indoor workouts but can be damaged when used in the rain or dropped in water.

Additionally, Apple’s website notes that an “optional wireless charging case [is] coming in 2018,” and Bloomberg mentions the case without discussing Apple’s plans for it. This case was originally shown during a sneak peek at AirPower, an Apple-developed charging mat compatible with last year’s new iPhone and Apple Watch models. In addition to being offered as an additional purchase for current AirPods users, the case might be bundled with one or both of the upcoming AirPods revisions, potentially pushing up the current $ 159 asking price.

Apple does not break out sales of AirPods in its lineup, but the wireless earphones are generally believed to be popular. The product was extremely difficult to get in the months following its December 2016 release, in part due to initial production constraints, and has been included in Apple’s growing Wearables category alongside the Apple Watch.

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Apple applies to expand Apple TV trademark to video games in over 60 countries

Although Apple’s video gaming track record has largely rewarded enthusiasm with disappointment, a new Apple TV trademark application discovered by Patently Apple indicates that the company is still interested in video games. Filed last week, the application expands the use of the Apple TV name for video gaming purposes — nothing else.

The application is noteworthy because Apple’s original 2007 trademark for the first Apple TV covered computer hardware and set top boxes focused on photos, music, and videos, excluding games entirely, and no change was made when it debuted the fourth-generation Apple TV with app and game support in September 2015. Last year’s Apple TV 4K trademarks were similar, only briefly mentioning “computer games” amongst many other functions of the wireless black box. By comparison, Apple’s new filing is devoted to Apple TV video game console and video game controller uses, which is unusual given that interest in Apple TV gaming is at a nadir.

Expensive by trademark standards but a drop in the bucket for Apple, Apple’s $ 16,000 international filing covers over 60 different countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America. Also interesting: The gaming-specific trademark filing appears to have been in the works for some time. Apple quietly filed a preliminary application last August in Jamaica, a country with a trademark office that cannot be searched online. Due to international reciprocity treaties, filing first in Jamaica enables Apple to plant its trademark flag early and privately, then expand the filing internationally whenever it’s comfortable going public.

This isn’t the first time Apple has publicly pushed the Apple TV for gaming purposes. The aforementioned fourth-generation Apple TV added the ability to play games, leading experienced gamers (including us) to hope that Apple would grow past its questionable gaming legacy. Unfortunately, Apple angered game developers by requiring them to support the new Apple TV’s limited Siri Remote as a controller, rather than letting games solely use dedicated gaming controllers. Developers soon stopped launching games solely for the Apple TV and retreated from initially higher Apple TV game price points, as well.

However, gaming has been wildly successful for certain developers on iOS devices: Games are amongst the most popular downloads in the App Store, which has generated $ 70 billion for developers since 2008. While game developers rarely if ever launch AAA console titles on iOS, games such as Minecraft and “freemium” titles with in-app purchases have been popular on iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches. Still, relatively few developers have brought their iOS hits to the Apple TV, as sales of the device have fallen below expectations.

Apple has recently embraced the potential of augmented reality gaming on iOS devices with the release of ARKit software development tools, going so far as to publicly refute claims of modest and slowing developer interest in AR. In light of Google’s apparent recent interest in developing a gaming platform, it’s possible that Apple’s competitive instincts may be kicking back in — though possibly too late to make a difference this time.

Apple – VentureBeat

Apple in talks to buy cobalt for batteries directly from miners

(Reuters) — Apple Inc is in talks to buy long-term supplies of cobalt for iPhone batteries directly from miners, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing sources.

The iPhone maker is seeking contracts to buy several thousand metric tons of cobalt for five years or longer, Bloomberg reported, citing an anonymous source.

Cobalt prices have skyrocketed of late due to an expected growth in demand for electric vehicles powered by lithium-ion batteries.

Apple may end up deciding not to go ahead with a deal, the report said, citing another source.

Apple was not immediately available for comment outside regular business hours.

(Reporting by Mekhla Raina in Bengaluru; editing by Sunil Nair)

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Apple leaks new iPads in regulatory filing, suggesting imminent release

Apple has requested and received permission from the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) to market previously unknown iPad models, reports Consomac (via AppleInsider), a regulatory step that typically signals a release of new hardware within one to two weeks. Dated February 19, the EEC’s list mentions A1893 and A1954 models of Apple tablet computers running iOS 11, models that do not correspond with existing iPads.

Rumors of new iPad models are fairly continuous, as Apple has been known to release updated tablets anywhere from March through September. The September 2015-vintage iPad mini 4 is the company’s oldest model, but the $ 329 9.7-inch iPad released in March 2017 seems most likely to receive an update. Questionable rumors late last year suggested that Apple was considering a $ 259 version of the 9.7-inch model to maintain iPad sales in the face of declining demand.

The EEC filing provides no further detail on the A1893 and A1954 models, but it should be noted that Apple typically releases two versions of each iPad: One with cellular capabilities, the other without cellular, and each with its own model number. Consequently, there’s a decreased likelihood of those model numbers representing both an iPad and an iPad mini, or two different models of iPad Pro. As Consomac notes, the filing also contains additional tablet models preceded by CC, and iPhone models starting with AA, which do not conform with standard Apple model naming conventions.

Apple updated the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and replaced the 9.7-inch iPad Pro with a 10.5-inch model last June. The company generally does not replace devices until at least a year after initial introduction. References to an unreleased “Modern iPad” in beta versions of iOS 11.3 are thought to reference a fully redesigned iPad Pro model with Face ID, akin to the iPhone X.

Apple – VentureBeat