Friday Morning News

Emoji++ iconYes, Apple hired Marc Newson to work on a part-time basis to work on specific projects, but no, neither he nor Apple can confirm what those projects are. And the only reason we know that much is because the Australian designer was recently interviewed by one architecture and design magazine, but as usual, Apple PR was on the case when it came to answering questions that actually mattered.

In internal Apple news, Apple has overhauled its HR strategy with a number of new initiatives which include major benefits to employees. Increased time off for parental leave, reimbursements for education, and donation matching programs are all part of the perks that come with working at Apple, and 9to5Mac has published the email to employees detailing the changes. We also know Apple has also named Steve Dowling as the interim head of Public Relations, following Katie Cotton’s retirement.

Apple has launched a new website which allows you to check the Activation Lock status of any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. “Before you purchase an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch from somebody else, make sure that Find My iPhone Activation Lock is turned off and the device is ready for you to use.” Service providers have had access to a similar tool for a while now, but this time, Apple has given public access.

Apple has released a new beta of iTunes for OS X Yosemite users. ITunes 12 includes yet another interface redesign, although the changes aren’t as drastic as they were going from 10 to 11; mostly a flattening of UI elements here, a few updated icons there.

A report claims Apple Pay will be arriving with iOS 8.1 on October 20th, not that Australians get to join in on the fun. An in-depth look at Apple’s mobile payments system from TUAW breaks down some of the finer points, including how credit card information has been totally removed from the transaction, improving security.

Spotify’s latest iOS app update adds support for CarPlay, which would be great and all, if CarPlay-compatible head units actually existed in the wild. Fortunately, Pioneer has launched their 2014 series of NEX in-dash receivers, ranging from upwards of $700 and topping out at $1400 for all the bells and whistles. You can also update the firmware for your existing NEX unit, if supported.

TidBITS explains how third-party keyboards in iOS work, covering everything from setup and use to security aspects. The latest Emoji keyboard on the block is Emoji++, which improves on the default Apple emoji keyboard by giving you a scrolling list, a bigger view of all your emoji, and the ability to jump to any specific category. Emoji++ is $1.29 on the App Store.

Carbon Copy Cloner has hit 4.0, and one of the most popular pieces of software for copying data from one machine to another just got a pretty big UI overhaul. You can now schedule and save tasks for frequently-done copying operations. CCC is no longer free, but is $40 for a personal license — the Pro version will set you back another $20.

Macworld runs through some of the changes in Mobile Safari in iOS 8.

A report from Forbes covers Apple’s bumper September. We saw the announcement of an entirely new category of Apple products (the Apple Watch), as well as the announcement and launch of the latest iPhone. But for every high, there’s been another low — it’s all part of the Apple roller coaster.

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