Why Apple didn’t end up using a sapphire screen for the iPhone 6: Best of the Web

In the lead-up to the launch of Apple’s iPhone 6, one of the most persistent rumours was that the tech giant was going with a new type of display – a sapphire screen.

So what happened? Was it a case of misinformation?

According to Kevin Bullis at the MIT Technology Review, there are good reasons why Apple ended up not choosing sapphire:

In the year leading up to the release of the iPhone 6, Apple invested more than $1 billion in an effort to make sapphire one of the device’s big selling points. Making screens out of the nearly unscratchable material would have helped set the new phone apart from its competitors.

When Apple announced the iPhone 6 this September, however, it didn’t have a sapphire screen, only a regular glass one. And a month later, the small New Hampshire-based company chosen to supply Apple with enormous quantities of cheap sapphire, GT Advanced Technologies, declared bankruptcy.

Recent documents from GT’s bankruptcy proceedings, and conversations with people familiar with operations at Apple and GT, provide several clues as to what went wrong.

Apple Pay won’t replace the credit card – but it will replace the wallet

Will smartphone payment systems do away with credit card systems? After trialling Apple Pay, Damon Darlin from The New York Times thinks it won’t replace the credit card – but your wallet is a different matter:

Apple Pay is revolutionary, but perhaps not for the reason most people think. It isn’t going to replace the credit card. The credit card has never been an annoyance, not to retailers, cardholders or the people behind them in the checkout line. (The greatest annoyance remains people fumbling with checkbooks at the last minute.) The credit card will stick around because it is integrated into Apple Pay. That tight integration is also one reason Apple Pay has a good chanceof succeeding.

But the real reason it will succeed is that it will replace the wallet, the actual physical thing crammed with cards, cash, photos and receipts. The smartphone has a history of replacing other devices. It has killed or wounded, among others, point-and-shoot cameras, video cameras, tape recorders, MP3 players, GPS devices, wristwatches, daily organizers, maps, alarm clocks, calculators, flashlights and compasses.

Demand for Ruby is falling

A few years ago, when it came to websites and web apps, Ruby on Rails was the hottest programming language and web development framework on the market.

Over at IT World, Phil Johnson warns that while there’s still a lot of call for Ruby, in terms of demand, it might not be the gem it used to be:

You’re a budding software developer trying to decide which programming skills would be most valuable to devote your time to learning – or, if you’re a seasoned pro just looking become more marketable – Quartz had some interesting news for you last week. Using U.S. job listing data collected by Burning Glass and the Brookings Institution, Quartz found that the most valuable programming skill to have today is Ruby on Rails (AKA Rails or RoR) experience, with an average salary of $109,460. However, before you run out and buy Ruby on Rails for Dummies, you might want to consider some other data which indicate that Rails (and Ruby) usage is not trending upwards.

South Korea bans “selfie sticks”

South Korea has one of the highest take-up rates for new technologies in the world. Being the homeland of such industrial and technological powerhouses as Samsung, Hyundai, LG and Daewoo, that probably comes as little surprise.

However, according to the BBC, one new technology you’re unlikely to see in Korea anytime soon is a selfie stick.

In South Korea, selling a “selfie stick” that lets people photograph themselves could mean a fine of up to £17,300 if the gadget is unregistered.

The law applies to sticks using Bluetooth to remotely trigger a phone to take a picture. The agency said unregistered sticks might interfere with other devices using the same radio frequencies.

Selfie sticks into which smartphones can be slotted to take snaps of their owners beyond arm’s length have proved hugely popular and the most sophisticated versions use the Bluetooth short-range radio technology to trigger a handset’s shutter.

Stephen Hawking’s new speech system

Finally, when it comes to the big questions of life and the universe, physicist Stephen Hawking is someone who certainly has a lot to communicate. Unfortunately, as a motor neurone disease sufferer, that has sometimes been a challenge.

Over at Wired, Joao Medeiros talks about the unique partnership between a tech industry pioneer and the famous physicist that is revolutionising how people with speech difficulties use electronics communicate:

Stephen Hawking first met Gordon Moore, the cofounder of Intel, at a conference in 1997. Moore noticed that Hawking’s computer, which he used to communicate, had an AMD processor and asked him if he preferred instead a “real computer” with an Intel micro-processor. Intel has been providing Hawking with customised PCs and technical support since then, replacing his computer every two years.

Hawking lost his ability to speak in 1985, when, on a trip to CERN in Geneva, he caught pneumonia. In the hospital, he was put on a ventilator. His condition was critical. The doctors asked Hawking’s then-wife, Jane, whether they should turn off the life support. She vehemently refused. Hawking was flown to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge, where the doctors managed to contain the infection. To help him breathe, they also performed a tracheotomy, which involved cutting a hole in his neck and placing a tube into his windpipe. As a result, Hawking irreversibly lost the ability to speak.

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