Tag - Sapphire
Garmin has expanded its Fenix 3 multisport smartwatches with a trio of new fitness-tracking devices for the wrist. The updated models all include sapphire glass to protect their displays, with versions including a premium variant with a titanium bezel and band, one with easily changeable leather and nylon straps, and a third "HR" model that uses Garmin's Elevate wrist-based heart rate monitoring system that can be used to improve and optimize the wearer's exercise routine.
Former Apple manufacturing partner and sapphire crystal furnace manufacturer GT Advanced Technologies may soon be able to emerge from bankruptcy, following the filing of a new plan with the court that would see $60 million in new debt and $20 million in preferred stock put up by lenders early next year -- however, the plan does not include any compensation for shareholders or other investors. Under the proposal, ownership of the company would be transferred to creditors, which may still include Apple.
GT Advanced has made an agreement with Apple over a proposed settlement for how the company will pay off its $439 million debt. The settlement will potentially allow the sapphire glass producer to free itself from the massive debt, by holding an auction later this month and selling off its sapphire glass production equipment, among other items going up for sale.
Following the issues at GT Advanced, one of Apple's producers of sapphire glass for the Apple Watch has been identified as a Russian company called Monocrystal, according to a report. The synthetic sapphire producer is claimed to be a supplier to Apple, providing two-inch sapphire wafers specifically for the wearable device, and is believed to be one of the few sapphire glass producers making an operating profit by the end of 2014, with Monocrystal bringing in $87 million in annual revenue.
On Friday, Apple filed an objection in bankruptcy court to a new financing plan brought forward by GT Advanced Technologies, its former partner in sapphire glass production. The new financing report from GT Advanced claims that it has to collect enough insurance money over a fire that damaged the plant Apple owns in May, to cover a $95 million loan agreement for repairs. Apple says that GT Advanced is trying to weasel out of its obligations.
Huawei has introduced its flagship Android Wear device, simply known as the Watch. The company has called on traditional timepiece designers to help with industrial design. The result resembles a typical wristwatch, until the display flips from a clock face to an app interface.
Corning is working on a version of its toughened glass, used in a large number of tablets and smartphones, that can compete with sapphire. The glass manufacturer's Project Phire, announced on Friday, aims to make a glass that can combine the same drop protection that Gorilla Glass is known for with sapphire-level resistance to scratches, a weakness of currently-produced Gorilla Glass.
In a move sure to be opposed by the myriad companies it owes money to, former Apple sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies is currently asking a bankruptcy court judge for permission to hand out over two million dollars in "executive bonuses" designed to help motivate and retain "key" employees -- largely the same group of senior executives who ran the company into the ground. In total, the company expects to apply for nearly $6 million in total bonuses and incentives to various levels of employees.
The judge in the New Hampshire-based bankruptcy court overseeing the legal wrangle between Apple and its former sapphire production partner GT Advanced Technologies has signed off on a revised agreement between the two companies that is intended to stave off additional court proceedings that could tie up the matter for years, from creditors who were concerned that Apple was getting paid first. The new deal doesn't change the fundamental tenets of the agreement, but allows other creditors more funds from the first sales of GT Advance's furnaces.
More details on the collapse of the GT Advanced Technologies deal with Apple were made available today, as sources have reported that a letter sent by Apple to other creditors in the GT Advanced bankruptcy case reveals more details on why the partnership collapsed. Included in the letter were pictures of defective sapphire boules produced by GT Advanced, pointed to by Apple as the main reason the company went under -- it contracted to produce high-quality boules of the material, but simply couldn't produce enough usable product.
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Cirrus creates Lightning-headphone dev kit
Apple supplier Cirrus Logic has introduced a MFi-compliant new development kit for companies interested in using Cirrus' chips to create Lightning-based headphones, which -- regardless of whether rumors about Apple dropping the analog headphone jack in its iPhone this fall -- can offer advantages to music-loving iOS device users. The kit mentions some of the advantages of an all-digital headset or headphone connector, including higher-bitrate support, a more customizable experience, and support for power and data transfer into headphone hardware. Several companies already make Lightning headphones, and Apple has supported the concept since June 2014. http://bit.ly/29giiZj
Apple Store app offers Procreate Pocket
The Apple Store app for iPhone, which periodically rewards users with free app gifts, is now offering the iPhone "Pocket" version of drawing app Procreate for those who have the free Apple Store app until July 28. Users who have redeemed the offer by navigating to the "Stores" tab of the app and swiping past the "iPhone Upgrade Program" banner to the "Procreate" banner have noted that only the limited Pocket (iPhone) version of the app is available free, even if the Apple Store app is installed and the offer redeemed on an iPad. The Pocket version currently sells for $3 on the iOS App Store. [32.4MB]
Porsche adds CarPlay to 2017 Panamera
Porsche has added a fifth model of vehicle to its CarPlay-supported lineup, announcing that the 2017 Panamera -- which will arrive in the US in January -- will include Apple's infotainment technology, and be seen on a giant 12.3-inch touchscreen as part of an all-new Porsche Communication Management system. The luxury sedan starts at $99,900 for the 4S model, and scales up to the Panamera Turbo, which sells for $146,900. Other vehicles that currently support CarPlay include the 2016 911 and the 2017 models of Macan, 718 Boxster, and 718 Cayman. The company did not mention support for Google's corresponding Android Auto in its announcement. http://bit.ly/295ZQ94
Apple employees testing wheelchair features
New features included in the forthcoming watchOS 3 are being tested by Apple retail store employees, including a new activity-tracking feature that has been designed with wheelchair users in mind. The move is slightly unusual in that, while retail employees have previously been used to test pre-release versions of OS X and iOS, this marks the first time they've been included in the otherwise developer-only watchOS betas. The company is said to have gone to great lengths to modify the activity tracker for wheelchair users, including changing the "time to stand" notification to "time to roll" and including two wheelchair-centric workout apps. http://bit.ly/2955JDa
SanDisk reveals two 256GB microSDXC cards
SanDisk has introduced two 256GB microSDXC cards. Arriving in August for $150, the Ultra microSDXC UHS-I Premium Edition card offers transfer speeds of up to 95MB/s for reading data. The Extreme microSDXC UHS-I card can read at a fast 100MB/s and write at up to 90MB/s, and will be shipping sometime in the fourth quarter for $200. http://bit.ly/294Q1If
Apple's third-quarter results due July 26
Apple has advised it will be issuing its third-quarter results on July 26, with a conference call to answer investor and analyst queries about the earnings set to take place later that day. The stream of the call will go live at 2pm PT (5pm ET) via Apple's investor site, with the results themselves expected to be released roughly 30 minutes before the call commences. Apple's guidance for the quarter put revenue at between $41 billion and $43 billion. http://apple.co/1oi1Pbm
Twitter stickers slowly roll out to users
Twitter has introduced "stickers," allowing users to add extra graphical elements to their photos before uploading them to the micro-blogging service. A library of hundreds of accessories, props, and emoji will be available to use as stickers, which can be resized, rotated, and placed anywhere on the photograph. Images with stickers will also become searchable with viewers able to select a sticker to see how others use the same graphic in their own posts. Twitter advises stickers will be rolling out to users over the next few weeks, and will work on both the mobile apps and through the browser. http://bit.ly/29bbwUE