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iOS 8.4 in Development With Possible Support for New Music Service

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Along with iOS 8.2 and iOS 8.3, both of which have been seeded to developers in beta form, Apple is also said to be working on an iOS 8.4 update. According to 9to5Mac, the beta is codenamed "Copper," and set to be released later this year at some point after the Apple Watch becomes available for purchase in April. 

Given the release timing after iOS 8.2 and iOS 8.3, it's possible that iOS 8.4 will be the update that introduces Apple's new streaming music service. Recent rumors have suggested that Apple's existing Beats music service will be rebranded, revamped with alower price tag, and integrated into iOS and OS X. A timeline is unclear, but Apple could be aiming for a June launch, sometime around its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. 

iOS 8.4 began appearing in MacRumors site logs towards the end of January, with usage spiking up at the beginning of February. The number of visits from devices running iOS 8.4 from both Apple IPs and non-Apple IPs remains relatively low, however, suggesting that development on iOS 8.4 is in the very early stages. 

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Visitors to MacRumors.com via Apple's networks from devices running iOS 8.4



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Overall visitors to MacRumors.com from devices running iOS 8.4


iOS 8.2 has been in developer testing since November, and iOS 8.3, with wireless CarPlay support, a new emoji picker, and Apple Pay for China was just seeded to developers this morning. Along with its iOS 8 projects, Apple is also working on iOS 9, an update that may heavily focus on stability and optimization.

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Apple Working On Project That Will 'Give Tesla a Run for its Money' Says Employee

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Following last week's news of a mysterious Apple-leased vehicle roaming the streets of Northern California, an Apple employee has given some details to Business Insider, suggesting Apple is working on a project that will "give Tesla a run for its money."

After writing about how the van could be used for a self-driving car, we got an unsolicited email from an employee at Apple about "vehicle development" at the company. [...] 

"Apple's latest project is too exciting to pass up," the person said. "I think it will change the landscape and give Tesla a run for its money."

According to the site's source, who was verified to be an Apple employee, Tesla employees are "jumping ship" and choosing to work at Apple because of this unidentified project. 

Last week's pictures unveiled a van that appeared to have multiple cameras on the top, similar to the vehicles Google uses for mapping. Given the van's similarity to other mapping vehicles, rumors have suggested that it is likely for an unspecified mapping project. Apple has been working to improve Maps in recent months, and it's possible the company is working on a feature that would compete with Google Street View. 

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Photo of Apple van via Claycord


Other speculation has ranged a bit more towards the fantastical, suggesting that Apple is perhaps working on a self-driving car, but this seems unlikely due to Apple's tendency to focus on just a few products at a time. "We have zero issue coming up with things we want to do, said Tim Cook last January. "We must focus on the very few that deserve all our energy." 

As Business Insider suggests, one probable project that could pique the interest of former Tesla employees is CarPlay. CarPlay, which brings an iOS-style interface to in-car infotainment systems, is still very much in the early stages. In the future, CarPlay, which is being built directly into many cars, could expand to offer a Tesla-style feature set. With the Tesla iPhone app, Tesla owners can turn on heating, lock and unlock doors from afar, flash the lights, and more. 

Deeper integration between iOS and in-car systems is also easily imaginable, given Apple's desire to allow users to transition easily from device to device, as with its new "Continuity" iOS 8/OS X Yosemite feature. In October, Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted at anexpansion of Continuity and suggested it would be incredibly important going forward. "Use your imagination and think about where Continuity goes," he said. 

Given the ambiguity of the employee's statement, it is, of course, possible that the project in question is not even car-related and is something all together different. 

Earlier this month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk directly contradicted the Apple employee's suggestion that Tesla employees are tempted by what Apple has to offer. In a reportoutlining the many employees Tesla has poached from Apple, Bloomberg spoke to Musk, who said "very few people" had left Tesla for Apple, despite Apple's offer of a $250,000 signing bonus and 60 percent salary increase.

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Hands-On Review of Oral-B's iPhone-Connected Bluetooth Smart Toothbrush

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Bluetooth-enabled appliances and electronics that connect everyday household items to smartphones and tablets are becoming increasingly popular, giving us a whole range of connected things -- thermostatscoffee makers and mixing bowlscars, and even connected toothbrushes, like the Oral-B SmartSeries toothbrush lineup, which features Bluetooth toothbrushes that are compatible with an iPhone app. 

Oral-B showed off its first smart toothbrush in early 2014, and began shipping the $125 Oral-B Pro 5000 SmartSeries with Bluetooth later in the year. We caught up with Oral-B at CES in 2015 and got our hands on an Oral-B Pro 5000 so we could share the connected toothbrush experience with MacRumors readers. 

Connected toothbrushes are set to take off in 2015, so this is a good time to explore available options and see what they can do for you. Oral-B has a second higher-end model coming out this year, and the Kolibree toothbrush, which gamifies brushing, is finally launching in a few months. 

What's in the Box

The Oral-B Pro 5000 SmartSeries with Bluetooth ships with the toothbrush itself, a brush head, a stand for charging, a travel case, and a guide that walks you through how to pair the toothbrush to an iPhone. There's also a stand to hold multiple brush heads, but as you'll see later in this review, the brush and its accompanying app isn't really suited for more than one user. 

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Box contents, along with iPhone


The Toothbrush

The Oral-B Pro 5000 SmartSeries with Bluetooth is essentially the company's standard Oral-B Pro 5000 toothbrush with a Bluetooth upgrade. This brush has been around forquite some time and has racked up thousands of reviews on Amazon. 

For that reason, we won't go into a great amount of detail on the brush itself, but we'll hit a few major points that are worth knowing. First of all, theOral-B Pro 5000 is a rechargeable electric toothbrush that that oscillates and rotates to keep your teeth cleaner than a manual brush.

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Corning Unveils 'Project Phire' Super Scratch-Resistant Glass

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Corning today unveiled a new material that it's been working on, which combines the strength of its existing Gorilla Glass with ultra scratch-resistance like that of sapphire, reports CNET. The material, which goes by the name "Project Phire," was shown off during an investor meeting by Corning Glass president James Clappin.

"We told you last year that sapphire was great for scratch performance but didn't fare well when dropped," Clappin, president of Corning Glass Technologies, told the crowd at the event. "So, we created a product that offers the same superior damage resistance and drop performance of Gorilla Glass 4 with scratch resistance that approaches sapphire."
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According to Corning, Gorilla Glass is superior to sapphire due to sapphire's brittleness and tendency to shatter when dropped. Corning has on several occasions pitted Gorilla Glass against sapphire to highlight the former's benefits -- lighter weight, greater strength, and lower pricing. 
Gorilla Glass 4, Corning's most recent product, is even more resistant to shattering when it falls onto hard, rough surfaces than previous versions of Gorilla Glass, but it is unable to match the scratch resistant properties of sapphire crystal. Sapphire is second only to diamond when it comes to hardness, and Apple already uses the material to protect the iPhone's rear camera and Touch ID fingerprint sensor from scratches. 
Apple's desire to produce iPhone displays with greater scratch resistance may make Corning's "Project Phire" material highly appealing to the company for use in next-generation devices, as it could potentially serve as a more affordable, easier to acquire replacement for sapphire.

Corning's existing Gorilla Glass product is used in a range of smartphone and tablet displays, from Samsung's Galaxy line to Apple's own iOS lineup. Apple planned to move away from Corning's Gorilla Glass with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, switching instead to sapphire produced by GT Advanced, but was unable to use the material due to production issues that later saw the dissolution of the partnership between the two companies.

 

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Some Retina iPad Minis Showing Image Retention Issues

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Some Retina iPad minis are demonstrating image retention issues, as noted by Instapaper creator Marco Arment, who originally developed a grid test to detect the problem in Retina MacBook Pros. 

Image retention was first cited as a potential issue last week, when a rumor suggestedthat burn-in on Sharp's IGZO panels was causing production delays with the Retina mini's display, leading to significant supply constraints that have resulted in a quiet release for the tablet. 

While it is unclear how many Retina iPad minis are affected by the issue, several miniowners on Twitter have discovered the problem after running the grid test. It is not known if the image retention is limited to displays from specific manufacturers, as many Retina iPad minis are not experiencing display problems. 

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An example of image retention after running the grid test, via Twitter


Displays with image retention are not a new problem for Apple. The original Retina MacBook Pro displays demonstrated severe image persistence problems, with remnants or previously-displayed windows remaining visible on the screen for several minutes. It is important to note, however, that the image retention is temporary and not permanent like the burn-in seen with some plasma displays. 

In normal use cases, it is unlikely that the image retention is noticeable, but Retina iPad mini owners experiencing image retention are still within their return windows. Apple has replaced Retina MacBook Pros experiencing display problems, and it is likely that a similar policy will be adopted for Retina iPad minis with image persistence. 

In addition to image retention, some users on the MacRumors forums have also noted that their Retina mini screens are not as vibrant as iPad Air, suggesting the Retina iPad mini may have a smaller color gamut. 

Apple's Retina iPad mini is currently available from the Apple Online Store beginning at $399. Orders are currently shipping within 1 to 10 days in the United States depending on capacity and cellular capability, and while Apple has not made the mini widely available in its stores, it is also available in many areas via Personal Pickup.

   

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