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The AppAdvice Week In Review: Sapphire Glass, The iPhone 5s, Gift Ideas And More

It wasn’t exactly a quiet holiday week in the world of Apple. Here are just a few of the stories we covered during the week that was:

Stock Price Rise

Apple investors haven’t had a lot to smile about since the company's stock price hit a record high in September 2012. That has changed in recent weeks, as AAPL closed above $550 to close out the holiday week. As Joe White noted:
It’s been a whirlwind year for Apple stock, but after the highs of late-2012 and the lows of mid-April, shares in the Cupertino, Calif. company closed above $550 after yesterday’s Black Friday trading, indeed leaving Apple investors feeling thankful this holiday season. More precisely, Apple stock closed at $556 – up 10 points on the day – demonstrating that confidence in the company is continuing to grow. Before the next-generation iPad and iPad mini were announced in October, you’ll remember that Apple stock reached above $500 per share; however, shares in Apple really started to pick up during the weeks ahead of its September iPhone event.
For the year, Apple shares are now up 4.5 percent. For the quarter, they have risen 16.64 percent.

Apple has big plans for Touch ID, sapphire glass in the coming years

Touch ID is only available on the iPhone 5s -- and only through the device's home button. That is likely to change in the coming years. A recent patent shows that Apple is looking to make the sensor into a trackpad on future iOS devices. As Brent Dirks explained:
Along with tracking where your finger is, the patent also describes how the home button can measure how long and hard it is pressed. That makes the button, as the site describes, into “an advanced joystick.” The patent even mentions how the Touch ID capability could be integrated into the entire touchscreen. That could allow, for example, only authorized users access to certain apps like Mail.
Meanwhile, Apple is hoping to equip its next-generation iPhone with an “unscratchable” sapphire glass screen, and has invested more than half a billion dollars in an attempt to speed up the development of this promising technology. Currently, Apple only uses sapphire glass on Touch ID and iPhone cameras. As White noted, Apple has paid some $578 million to GT Advanced Technologies to speed up “the development of its next generation, large capacity ASF furnaces to deliver low cost, high volume manufacturing of sapphire material.”
Jeff Nestel-Patt, marketing director with GT Advanced Technologies, explains that the more durable sapphire glass “is virtually scratch-free,” and some 2.5 times stronger than the much-used Corning Gorilla Glass. Though Apple indeed uses sapphire glass to protect its camera and Touch ID-equipped Home button, it looks like an expansion of this technology could indeed be in the cards.
It isn't known when Apple will launch iOS devices with sapphire glass screens. However, with Apple rumored to be working on iPhones with larger screens, the change could happen as early as 2014.

The iPhone 5s is flying off the shelves

This wasn't supposed to be a banner year for iPhone sales. After all, the current phone has a letter "s" attached to its name. Nonetheless, the iPhone 5s is turning out to be more popular than its predecessors. Just 69 days after release, the adoption of the iPhone 5s stands at 8.21 percent. At this point last year, the iPhone 5 had a usage rate of 6.94 percent. With this in mind, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Foxconn has boosted iPhone 5s production at the request of Apple. As noted by The Wall Street Journal, Foxconn has 100 production lines operating around the clock at its plant in Zhengzhou (northern China), all of which are working towards producing iPhone 5s handsets and components for Apple. Each individual production line consists of around 600 workers, meaning the Zhengzhou plant has 60,000 employees working on the flagship smartphone. The iPhone 5s launched on Sept. 20. The device had been in short supply. Inventory levels have recently improved.

Special Report: Gift Ideas

Looking for the perfect gift this holiday season? We have you covered. Here's a summary of just a few of the gift guides we published in the past few days:

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Dom Esposito recently had the opportunity to review Google Glass 2.0. Take a look:  
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