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This week on AppleInsider: 'iPhone 6s' details, streaming music plans, HomeKit hardware in June

A relatively quiet week nevertheless witnessed some of the first detailed specs for the next-generation iPhone, as well as more news on Apple's plans for the Beats Music relaunch, and the first generation of HomeKit devices.




Apple creates up to one million acres of managed Chinese forest



On Sunday, Apple announced a partnership with World Wildlife Fund China to manage up to a million acres of Chinese forest. The company is ultimately aiming for a net-zero impact on the Earth's sustainable virgin fiber supply.

The company is also expanding renewable energy efforts to the Chinese factories that manufacture its products. Some 87 percent of Apple's own operations are using renewable energy —the eventual goal is 100 percent —but third-party suppliers have so far been allowed to continue using non-renewable sources.

'iPhone 6s' may get 12-megapixel camera, 2GB of RAM






KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo on Tuesday claimed that the next-generation flagship iPhone, presumably called the iPhone 6s, will have a variety of upgrades like a 12-megapixel camera and 2 gigabytes of RAM. The device is also expected to use new internal and exterior designs, in part to address the structural weaknesses causing some current-generation iPhones to bend.

Apple will allegedly stick with 4.7- and 5.5-inch screens, but could upgrade the latter —presumably called 6s Plus —with sapphire for extra durability. Both sizes should support Force Touch input, enabling new controls.



The 6s is also expected to get a rose gold color, matching the color of the genuine rose gold used in the most expensive Apple Watch models.

A separate report on Friday backed the idea of 12-megapixel camera, but suggested Apple might switch to a sensor that uses smaller pixels.

Rebranded Beats Music to have new social network for artists






Though many aspects of Apple's upcoming on-demand music service are shrouded in secrecy, a Wednesday report said that it will have an artists-only social network. It may be similar in some respects to Apple's failed Ping network, letting artists share music, concert dates, and other updates, but without listener profiles on the other end.

The new approach might be similar to Spotify, except that Apple's service will allegedly let people like and comment on posts.

Apple Maps data services undergoing overhaul for future releases






AppleInsider discovered that Apple is doing a "front-to-back" overhaul of the data services behind Maps. The information emerged from an opening for a senior software engineer in the Maps Data Services team.

The reason for the intensive project wasn't made clear, but Apple is known to be restoring public transit directions to Maps, which may necessitate improving the platform's data infrastructure.

First HomeKit accessories to launch in June






Responding to Fortune claims on Thursday of a delayed rollout, Apple insisted that first-generation HomeKit compliant accessories would ship in June. Fortune suggested that the software allowing detection and configuration of devices was being plagued by memory problems, and would force HomeKit's arrival to wait until late this year.

The home automation platform was originally announced in June 2014, but product certification only began a few months ago. Compatible setups will let people control things like lights, doors and appliances from an iOS device.

Trader Joe's to take Apple Pay






At the end of the week, AppleInsider learned that popular grocery chain Trader Joe's will soon start accepting Apple Pay. Some payment terminals are already showing an Apple Pay logo.

Not all stores have been equipped with compatible terminals however, and even then support isn't guaranteed. One outlet in Raleigh, N.C., was found to be prepared, while another in Brooklyn, N.Y., wasn't.