Tales form the Orchard: What to expect from Apple’s September 12 ‘Gather round’ event

 

 

By Christian de Looper of Digital Trends

It’s that time of year again. Apple has sent out invitations for its annual September event, where we’ll likely see a new set of iPhone devices, a new Apple Watch, and possibly a range of other devices too. The event itself is set to take place on September 12 at 10 a.m. Pacific Time, though no matter where you live you should be able to live-stream it for yourself.

What exactly will Apple announce? We’ve been following rumors surrounding all the upcoming products for the past year, and we’ve rounded them up into this short, handy guide. Here’s everything we expect to see at Apple’s “Gather Round” event.

THREE IPHONES

Last year, Apple unveiled the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus. This year, rumors suggest it will announce three different models again. Apple is expected to fully adopt the edge-to-edge design seen on the iPhone X for all models of the iPhone (including the notch). Thankfully, they won’t all cost $1,000. Apple will reportedly release two successors to the iPhone X, dubbed the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, and they will be sized at 5.8 inches and 6.5 inches. Apple will also release a 6.1-inch model, which is expected to be the cheapest of the lot. It will also have an edge-to-edge display with a notch, but the main difference will stem from the use of a LCD screen instead of OLED used on the other two.

The new iPhone XS devices are expected to arrive in a new gold color model, alongside an updated processor, eSIM support, a potential Lightning to USB Type-C cable, and more. The prices are rumored to range from $650 to $1,000.

APPLE WATCH SERIES 4

Just like it did last year, Apple is expected to release a new Apple Watch alongside the new series of iPhones. The Apple Watch Series 4 will retain many of the features of the Apple Watch Series 3, but it’s expected to include a display that’s larger by as much as 15 percent — making it an edge-to-edge display, like that on the iPhone X.

Other rumors about the watch indicate Apple may do away with the Wi-Fi model altogether — leaving only the LTE model (you will likely still be able to use Wi-Fi without paying for LTE with this model). It may also feature a UV sensor, and will run Apple’s latest version of watchOS 5.0.

MACBOOK AIR

Apple has long been expected to release a new low-cost MacBook, and rumors indicate the company will introduce a refresh of the MacBook Air. The new device is expected to feature Intel’s 8th-generation processors, along with a larger display. The updated computer will reportedly get a 13-inch Retina display, and will likely feature modern ports, like USB-C.

Not much else is known about the new laptop, except for the fact that it will most likely come at a starting price of around $1,000. It’s also not totally certain the new MacBook Air will be released at this September event. Instead, it could show up in October.

MAC MINI

Apple may also be planning a long-awaited refresh of the Mac Mini — and it’s about time, considering the computer was last updated in 2014. There will likely be quite a few performance upgrades. Apple will probably adopt Intel’s eighth-generation chips for the computer, and may do away with outdated hard drives in favor of only solid-state options. On top of that, while Apple may not completely revamp the design, it will likely at least update the port selection on the computer to include a few USB-C ports.

When it comes to pricing, the new Mac Mini may start in the $1,000 price range, and will range up from there. Like the MacBook Air, however, there’s no certainty that the Mac Mini will show up at the September 12 event — it may well instead be released later in the year.

IPAD PRO 2018

Another rumor to have popped up in recent days is that Apple will update the iPad Pro. It’ll be more than just a spec-bump too — rumors indicate Apple will give the iPad Pro the iPhone X treatment, with slimmer bezels around the screen, as well an updated A-series processor, and perhaps even a little more RAM.

With the new design, there may be no more home button, which means Face ID may replace Touch ID. That may be a double-edged sword, though, as rumors suggest Face ID might only work in vertical mode — meaning you won’t be able to dock the iPad to a keyboard and unlock it with your face. Apple may move the Smart Connector to the bottom of the iPad, so manufacturers may need to build new keyboards.

AIRPOWER

Apple officially announced the AirPower charger almost a full year ago, but the charger has yet to be released. When it is, AirPower will be able to charge up to three devices at a time — meaning in the evening you can plop down your iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods to charger — and they’ll be good to go in the morning. It’s using unique technology that will be able to identify the products and provide the correct amount of energy needed.

While we’re not completely certain AirPower will see the light of day at Apple’s upcoming event, we certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see it.

OPERATING SYSTEM RELEASES

Alongside new hardware, Apple will also release new software to the public. A few of those releases are all but definite. There’s iOS 12, which will be released likely on September 12 itself. You can check out our hands-on review for all the details on what’s new.

Next up is watchOS 5, which is also likely to be pushed to Apple Watch users on September 12 or soon after. The new operating system boasts a few improvements to watchOS and how it works, including better health and fitness tracking, Walkie Talkie mode, Siri Shortcuts, and more. On top of that, Siri will be better at listening to your needs — you’ll no longer need to say “Hey Siri” to activate her. Instead, simply hold your wrist up to your mouth, and Siri should be listening.

Last but not last is macOS, which is being updated to macOS Mojave. It’s expected that the new macOS will be released alongside new Apple computers — meaning it’s not a certainty that the new operating system will be released at this event. Still, if it is, macOS users will enjoy a number of new features, including a new Dark Mode, a revamped App Store, and Stacks, which are automatically arranged groups of files on the desktop.

 

What are you looking forward to the most from Apple’s upcoming Media Event? Sound off in the comments below!!

Tales from the Orchard: Apple’s retail challenge

An increasingly complex relationship with public spaces

 

By Michael Steeber of 9to5Mac

“We will know we have done really great if it feels like a town square,” explained Apple’s SVP of Retail Angela Ahrendts in May 2016. Ahrendts was specifically referring to Apple’s flagship Union Square store in San Francisco, but the goal was part of a broader initiative to reimagine the experience of all Apple retail stores.

With more people shopping online than ever before, the success of the town square strategy is critical to Apple’s continued relevance in a changing space where other well established brands have struggled. Yet even for Apple, the road hasn’t been without bumps. The push to move closer to the hearts of communities is increasingly met with skepticism and even hostility from residents. Apple is faced with a significant and growing long-term challenge that it will need to tackle in order to fully realize its retail strategy.

Town squares have been revered meeting and trade spaces since ancient times, so it’s no surprise that any changes to their fabric evoke strong feelings from communities. As public commons, these spaces reflect the values, priorities, culture, and preferences of those that occupy them. In a contemporary context, Apple and popular culture are inseparably bound by the ubiquity of iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches. This makes Apple’s pitch for modern-day town squares relatively straightforward: help people get more out of the lifestyle they’ve already embraced by providing spaces to meet up, learn, and get inspired.

If only it were that simple.

In each new city where Apple attempts to establish a significant contemporary store – typically adjacent to public space or inside a culturally notable building – a pattern of resistance is emerging. While every case is as unique and nuanced as the cities themselves, the broader sentiment is the same: citizens are wary of Apple’s reach.

At a time when advertising and branding proliferate every corner our digital lives, perhaps Apple is simply the straw that broke the camel’s back. Residents may see allowing a new store as the surrender of their last sanctuary from commercialism. But commercial presence around cultural centers is far from new. Chicago’s Millennium Park is just three blocks from the city’s largest shopping district, the Magnificent Mile. New York’s Central Park is home to several upscale restaurants. Quasi-public facilities like sporting venues are routinely named after large corporations, and urban public markets have been embraced by communities of all sizes.

“Some people may rejoice that they will have access to such a beautiful piece of architecture, but others will be clearly out of place,” writes Carlos Carmonamedina, a Washington D.C.-based artist, referring to Apple’s ambitious plan to restore the city’s historic Carnegie Library. Critics have argued that allowing a retail presence inside the library building, set to open later this year, undermines the original intent of the space as a public facility for learning. Apple’s answer is Today at Apple, a series of educational and community-driven sessions held at every store around the world. While the sessions are free and open to the public, signing up to attend still requires an Apple ID, and with the exception of live performances, getting the most out of a session often requires having your own devices.

Louder but sometimes less articulate are concerns raised over Apple’s proposed flagship store in Melbourne’s Federation Square. The project would be one of the company’s largest retail investments to date, placing a store not adjacent to public land, but on it. Construction would also come at the expense of the Yarra building, home of the Koorie Heritage Trust and numerous historic artifacts, all of which would be relocated. Apple says the proposal will improve the visibility and accessibility of the nearby Yarra River. The concerns of Melbourne citizens are justified, but difficult to parse amidst a wash of impassioned arguments that often devolve into attacks on Apple’s products and practices rather than the project itself.

Much of the momentum against Apple in Federation Square has been spearheaded by the “Our City, Our Square” movement, a campaign organized by Citizens for Melbourne. Last week, Apple revised their plans for the square after several months of continued unrest. Despite receiving approval from Federation Square’s original architect, the design changes have so far done little to quell the concerns of detractors, indicating that disapproval is less about the store’s architecture and more a matter of principle. Citizens of Melbourne did not respond to a request for comment.

In Sweden, a similar situation is unfolding. Apple and architecture firm Foster + Partners have revised renders depicting a retail presence at the head of Kungsträdgården, a historic park in Stockholm. Initial plans for the store were deemed too large and disruptive for the square. Even after redesigning the building with a more subdued footprint, nearly 80% of over 7,500 people surveyed in a recent Swedish poll viewed the store unfavorably.

“Personally, I think it would be a huge step up aesthetically from the (TGI) Friday’s restaurant that currently occupies the space, but I do think there could be even better use of the location than an Apple Store,” Stockholm-based software developer Andreas Hassellöf told me. In early July, public consultation began on the project, with hopes to facilitate similar civil discourse about the best use of the space.

Even Apple’s newly completed amphitheater in Milan, Italy has not gone without criticism. An unfavorable review in one Milanese newspaper called the store “an invasion.” Built underneath the historic Piazza Liberty, the space was formerly home to the Apollo Cinema.

In cities where town square-format Apple locations have already been established, communities have embraced the stores warmly, dissolving initial skepticism. Apple Michigan Avenue has quickly become an architectural destination and photography landmark in downtown Chicago. Apple Williamsburg in Brooklyn routinely draws crowds to star-studded live performances. So why are new projects so polarizing?

Apple’s earliest stores received little criticism, since most conformed to standard storefronts inside existing shopping malls throughout the United States. Even later and more ambitious projects were generally well received, with only a few exceptions like “there goes the neighborhood” concerns over New York’s Upper East Side store. Apple’s retail projects have long been lauded for their careful restoration and painstaking attention to detail.

Even the idea of Apple retail functioning as a gathering place isn’t entirely a new concept. Stores like Puerta del Sol in Madrid and Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona bordered public areas long before the rollout of Today at Apple. Widespread skepticism didn’t begin until Apple started explicitly promoting their stores as modern community hubs. A new wave of negative press coverage lamenting the privatization of public space followed when Angela Ahrendts used the words “town square” during an Apple keynote. Customers hear a message that Apple is trying to replace, not complement their cherished public spaces.

Misaligned expectations may also contribute to skepticism. Anyone who has been to a contemporary Apple store with the latest design elements, video wall, and Forum will immediately recognize how dramatically different the spaces feel compared to “classic” locations. But in Australia, only one store has been refreshed with the new design. In Sweden, none. Globally, only around one fifth of all locations can offer the full Today at Apple experience. Without visiting a new store or taking a Today at Apple session, it’s difficult for concerned citizens to form an accurate picture of how Apple will impact their community.

“Gadget store can’t be the best possible use—not in the District,” writes Kriston Capps for CityLab in an argument against an Apple store in Mount Vernon Square. The perception of Apple stores as simply electronics outlets – no different than a shiny Best Buy – is not uncommon, and it speaks to a need for more thorough communication from Apple to the communities they prepare to enter.

While Apple can’t send every Stockholm citizen to Milan to see what’s in store for Kungsträdgården (although a few local journalists were offered a preview), they can take a proactive role in the community before construction even begins. Hosting Today at Apple-esque events and sessions in local venues – even without an accompanying store – would reap goodwill and offer residents a preview of what they can look forward to. Projects like the former Apple Music Festival come to mind. “…After seeing what they have done here in Milan, I’m not particularly worried that it will be bad in Stockholm,” writes Feber.

History has shown that commercial activities and public space can live hand in hand when executed in way that provides a perceived value to every party involved. Broader acceptance of modern-day town squares will continue to be a significant challenge for Apple as their retail ambitions trend toward increasingly grand architecture projects. The success of a store can’t be measured only by completion and profitability, it must also be valued as a resource by those who live and work around it. An upfront effort to set the stage and educate people about a significant store wouldn’t be a frivolous expense, rather it demonstrates a long-term investment in a community that’s about to do the same.

How do you feel about Apple’s plans for it’s retail stores? Sound off in the comments below!

Tales form the Orchard: Apple may release new iPhone colors this year, including red, blue, and orange

 

 

 

  • Apple is expected to release three new iPhone models this fall.
  • The least expensive model could come in a variety of colors, including blue, red, and orange, according to an analyst.

By Kid Leswing of Business Insider

Apple could release an iPhone later this year with gray, white, blue, red, and orange color options.

The colorful new phone would be a less expensive model that has facial recognition and an edge-to-edge screen, according to details from the TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo shared by 9to5Mac.

The iPhone 8 is available in silver, black, gold, and red. The iPhone X comes in silver and black.

Apple watchers are expecting three new iPhones this year: one that looks like the iPhone X but with updated components; a supersize version of the iPhone X; and a less expensive, colorful iPhone with an edge-to-edge LCD screen and facial recognition that costs $650 to $750.

The supersize iPhone X could come in another new color — gold — according to the note shared by 9to5Mac.

Apple most recently released a lower-cost iPhone model with the iPhone 5c in 2013. That too came in a variety of colors, but it was not as strong a seller as Apple had hoped, and the model was discontinued soon after its release.

Kuo is a well-regarded analyst who often reveals new details about Apple’s production plans before they are public. While he was at another bank last November, he shared this graphic with his prediction about the 2018 iPhone lineup:

 

How do you feel about the potential colors for the new iPhone lineup? Sound off in the comments below!

Tales from the Orchard: What would Steve Jobs think of today’s Apple?

 

Originally posted on ZDNet

Steve Jobs was never one to leave anyone in any doubt as to what was on his mind, and thanks to hundreds of hours of keynotes, speeches, and interviews, we can get an insight into what he might think about the current state of the company he founded.

 

Still no next big thing

“One more thing…” — Steve Jobs

No quote excited Apple fans than this one. Those three simple words launched a number of world-changing Apple products.

 

Lack of focus

“Focusing is about saying ‘No.'” — Steve Jobs

The iPhone started out as a simple idea — a device that reinvented the smartphone. All a buyer needed to do was decide how much storage capacity they needed — 4, 8, or 16 gigabytes — and they were an iPhone owner.

Jump forward a decade and buyers are faced with eight different iPhones in numerous storage capacities and finishes.

 

AirPods

 

“The problem with Bluetooth headphones is that it’s not just recharging your iPod, you have to recharge your headphones too. People hate it. There are quality issues — the bandwidth isn’t high enough, and even if it does get there some day, people don’t want to recharge their headphones.” — Steve Jobs

While there’s little doubt that Bluetooth is now more than capable of delivering crystal clear audio, Apple’s solution to how to charge the AirPods would have no doubt upset Jobs. Not only do AirPod owners need to pop the AirPods into a case to charge, they also have to remember to charge up the case itself!

Dongles, dongles, and more dongles

 

“I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.” — Steve Jobs

Apple is clearly on a mission to simplify its Mac lineup, and one way it wants to do that is by eliminating as many ports as possible and standardizing on a single port where possible, as it has done with the new MacBook Pro.

Problem is, while one port might work for the iPhone and iPad, when it comes to a computer it’s a real pain, and it forces many users to carry with them an array of different dongles and accessories (such as this Satechi Type-C USB 3.0 3-in-1 combo hub) in order to be able to get work done.

Dumb solutions to simple problems

 

“You’ve baked a really lovely cake, but then you’ve used dog s— for frosting.” — Steve Jobs

Apple employs some of the smartest people on the planet, and the company is capable of doing wonderful things.

But it’s also come out with some howlers. For example, the battery case for the iPhone that has a charging indicator on the inside where you can’t see it. Or a rechargeable mouse that has the charging port on the bottom. Or a rechargeable pencil that has a tiny cap that’s easily lost.

These are just the sort of design howlers that you don’t expect from Apple.

Bogged down iOS

 

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” — Steve Jobs

When the iPhone was unveiled a decade ago the operating system (then called iPhone OS, the iOS name didn’t appear until 2010) was sleek and simple. Everything was a couple of taps away and the user interface was intuitive and a snap to use.

Fast-forward a decade and things have changed dramatically. While iOS 11 retains some of the look and feel of the early iPhone OS, Apple has bolted on, shoehorned in, and otherwise added to the mobile operating system so much that the once elegant and streamlined platform has become a kludgy and awkward mess.

Notification panels and popups litter the interface, gaining access to often-needed features now require users to memorize a number of different gestures, and the Settings app is now a mess to rival the Windows Control Panel at its worst.

Siri is still so dumb

 

“Details matter, it’s worth waiting to get it right.” — Steve Jobs

Apple acquired the technology behind its Siri voice assistant back in 2010 and integrated the technology into the iPhone 4S in late 2011, and since then it has spread from the iPhone to the iPad and the Mac.

But over that time Siri has gone from being “Wow!” to “Meh.” Put Siri in a room with Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google Now and you quickly discover just how dumb and gimmicky Siri actually is. The voice recognition is poor, and the range of things you can do, and the flexibility to ask questions in a natural way, is very basic compared to other voice assistant offerings.

Apple’s massive R&D budget

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.” — Steve Jobs

Apple’s R&D budget has increased over tenfold since the iPhone was released in 2007, and yet the company hasn’t come up with anything that comes close to the success of the iPhone.

Apple Pencil

 

“Who wants a stylus. You have to get ’em and put ’em away, and you lose ’em. Yuck. Nobody wants a stylus.” — Steve Jobs

I know many would argue that the Apple Pencil is more than a stylus, but many of problems with the stylus — finding it, putting it away, and losing it — haven’t really been solved by Apple.

The iPad’s rapid decline

 

“What we want to do is we want to put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you and learn how to use in 20 minutes.” — Steve Jobs

The iPad was Apple’s plan to disrupt the tablet market and put a stepping-stone between the iPhone and the Mac. And it looked like it would work. But in seven years sales have gone from showing strong growth initially to hitting a peak a few years back to now a rapid decline.

It could be said that the problem with the iPad is that consumers and enterprise buyers have lost interest in tablets, and that it’s only natural that sales would tank. But in that case how has Apple managed to keep Mac sales strong in the face of horrible PC sales, or managed to return the iPhone to growth?

Evolution over revolution

 

“I have a great respect for incremental improvement, and I’ve done that sort of thing in my life, but I’ve always been attracted to the more revolutionary changes.” — Steve Jobs

Over the past few years we’ve seen a lot of incremental, evolutionary updates from Apple, ranging across hardware and software, but there’s been little in the way of revolutionary changes. Certainly nothing that compares with those big gambles that Apple took while it was under the leadership of Jobs.

Following, instead of leading

 

“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” — Steve Jobs

Apple used to look forward, but now the company feels like it is increasingly looking sideways at what its competitors are up to, in particular the premier Android device maker, Samsung.

Samsung has a “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” attitude when it comes to hardware, and over the past few years we’ve seen Apple take a similar approach, especially with the iPhone. Some of these moves have been successful (for example, it’s clear that there was indeed a pent-up demand for larger and more expensive iPhones) while others have flopped (the iPhone 5C springs irresistibly to mind here).

 

Share your favorite Steve Jobs comments in the comments below!

How to: use Apple Pencil with Pages for iPad

 

 

By Charlie Sorrel of Cult of Mac

In Pages 4.0 for iPad, you can use Apple Pencil for more than just tapping stuff. Now you can use two great new iOS-only features in Apple’s word processing software. Smart Annotations lets you mark up text just like a teacher would — scoring red lines through words, running a highlighter over a sentence, etc. And a new drawing mode means you can easily add a sketch to a page just by tapping it with the pencil.

The drawing feature is neat, and brings Pages into line with Apple’s Notes app. But Smart Annotations will be a game-changer for many people, because it replicates something many folks still prefer to do on paper. Here’s how to take advantage of the new Pages features.

Drawing in Pages for iPad

 

To add a drawing to the body of a Pages document, you just long-press the Apple Pencil onto the screen and start drawing. This first tap brings up a resizable panel into which you can draw. If you prefer (or if you’re not using the Apple Pencil), you can tap the + icon at top right, then choose the symbols panel (the one that lets you add stencils of animals and cars), then tap the Drawing button at the bottom.
In drawing mode, you’ll see a familiar-but-different panel of tools at the bottom of the screen. These let you choose pencils, erasers and paint, and also to pick a color. But the panel’s options go beyond the usual Instant Markup tools found in other parts of iOS 11. For instance, there’s a proper color picker, so you’re not limited to just four colors plus black and white. You can also adjust the tools by tapping them a second time. In most cases, you can adjust the size and opacity of the pencil, crayon or pen.

Once you’ve completed your drawing, just tap Done. It then becomes a normal Pages object, which can be dragged different places and resized.
The super-intuitive new Pages drawing tools make it really easy to add quick illustrations to your work.

Smart Annotations in Pages

Smart Annotations may be Pages’ best new feature. It lets you mark up text using the Apple Pencil just by picking up the stylus and using it. You don’t have to launch a special mode, or tap a button (although there is a button if you insist on doing it this way). You just start writing, as if you were marking up text on real paper with a real pen.

For editors, this is a game-changer. It’s so much easier to mark things up like this than it is to use even well-designed PDF markup tools. In the book publishing business, editors still use paper galleys for final tweaks.

The big difference between Smart Annotations and paper, though, is the smart part. These annotations are tied to the text, not to the paper. That is, if you edit the text, the annotations stay with it. For instance, if you highlight a sentence, and then edit that sentence, the highlight stays.

The Smart Annotations feature is still in beta, so some things don’t work all the time. I’m sure I copied and pasted a paragraph, for example, and the highlight moved with it. But when I try it again, I can’t make it work.
Smart Annotations: A game-changer for editors

You can export the annotated document as a PDF, and the annotations stay with it. You can also share a document for collaboration via iCloud. People you share it with will be able to view your Smart Annotations and make some of their own if they like.

Imagine having a single manuscript, shared between author, editor and proof-readers, and you’ll see how powerful this feature is. You can also view and delete Smart Annotations on a Mac. I wonder if this feature will remain Pages-only, or if Apple will add it to the standard iOS text tools for other developers to use. It might be neat for coders, for example, and would be fantastic (and ironic) used with plain text notes apps.

The new Pages update brings several other nice additions. You can (finally) switch between portrait and landscape orientation for documents, you can add an image gallery, and you can view pages in double-page spreads. You can also use Pages to create iBooks, which is a huge new feature that we’ll cover in another post.

Price: Free

What is your favorite App to use with the Apple Pencil? Sound off in the comments below!

Tales from the Orchard: With these patents, Apple could win the next major platform war

 

By Helen Edwards and Dave Edwards of Quartz

The next stage of the platform wars may be in health.

Despite being one of the most regulated sectors, where change is driven as much by law as by technological advances, the big tech giants are active. Amazon, JPMorgan, and Berkshire Hathaway are teaming up to form an independent healthcare company for their employees in the United States. Alphabet’s Verily is moving into health insurance. And to consolidate, traditional healthcare giant Cigna has announced (paywall) it is buying pharmacy benefits firm Express Scripts.

While the same rules for platform domination will likely apply—adoption that builds on network effects aided by the power of Big Data and increasingly sophisticated AI—only one company already has a popular health-tracking device on sale that is essentially a supercomputer that’s always on your body.

The Apple Watch continues to grow its sales, which it doesn’t disclose but are already presumed to be in the tens of millions annually; one report suggests that Apple sold more watches last quarter than Rolex, Omega, and Swatch combined.

And the pipeline suggests that Apple has even more plans for its smartwatch.

At the end of February, Apple was awarded a patent for an Airpod-style charging case that can hold a watch but also a number of bands. This isn’t just a fashion accessory; the bands in question are “smart bands,” electronic devices in their own right. The reason you’d want more than one band might be because Apple might think that the next generation of medical devices will be for conditions that need more than one physiological measure—such as blood pressure and blood glucose for managing diabetes or glucose intolerance—and that measuring these body signals will not be possible in a single wearable.

(These bands aren’t fantasy—a company called AliveCor already offers the first US FDA-approved electrocardiogram reader for Apple Watch called Kardiaband, which may also be able to detect high potassium levels in the blood.)

Last year, Apple was also awarded a patent for a very clever way of measuring blood pressure with a Watch, where you can hold the Watch against your chest and a controller is configured to process output signals from an accelerometer. It detects when your blood-pressure pulse is propagated from the left ventricle of your heart, detects when it arrives at your wrist, then calculates a pulse-transit time that is then used to calculate your blood pressure. The accelerometer is dead in the middle of the band, not in the body of the Watch. This makes us think that there’s not much else that can go in that band, except perhaps a battery and maybe some colored lights.

Another area to speculate on is what else Apple may be thinking of monitoring. In the US alone, there are 115 million people who suffer from some form of pre-diabetes, diabetes, or hypertension. Many people actively monitor their diabetes through physiological monitoring of blood glucose with a finger prick test. Blood-glucose measurement through non-invasive means is a significant challenge and no one has figured out a reliable way to do it accurately.

But rumor has it that Apple is on the case. This is a very tough technical challenge that people have been trying to solve for decades. We suspect that Apple’s case patent may be an indicator that it will not be possible or desirable to use one band for both blood pressure and blood glucose, or anything else for that matter, for at least the next decade. So you might not be monitoring everything all of the time but you may be easily able to switch out charged smart bands that are fashionable and conceal that you are being monitored.

Apple needs the Watch to win the health-platform wars. They know you’ll want to preserve your privacy by being able to disguise what you are monitoring. They know you’ll want to be able to effortlessly store and connect because you will be required to supply all the data to your doctor, insurer or employer. They know that anything less will feel like the monitoring—and hence the condition—has taken over your life.

We think that only Apple can make medical surveillance bearable, much less cool. Which makes an Apple Watch, smart bands, and a case that does it all, an essential purchase. At that point, the Watch system is a lot more than just a $400 watch and the market isn’t just consumers—it’s employers and insurers who figure out the new economics of health as a platform service. The overall market for watches is likely smaller than phones but Apple’s competitive advantages in design, technology, and data security could give it a significantly higher market share in watches.

This is especially true for insurance company buyers who will be focused on effectiveness and security much more than price. If Apple emerges as the safe purchase for corporate buyers, the Watch could be the next big thing that investors have been looking for since the iPhone.

 

What do think of Apple tackling the Health Industry? Tell us in the comments below!

Tales from the Orchard: New Orleans police officer resigns after being accused of stealing AirPods from Apple Store

 

 

By Roger Fingas of Apple Insider

AirPods remain a hot commodity even a year later, but they’re definitely not worth unemployment. Unfortunately, it sounds like a New Orleans police officer may have miscalculated that equation during a recent Apple Store visit…

 

The Times-Picayune reports that a patrol officer for the New Orleans Police Department is accused of misdemeanor theft after allegedly stealing a pair of AirPods from the local Apple Store in Metairie, Louisiana. The officer accused of stealing AirPods from the Apple Store has since resigned as a result.

Deputies issued NOPD Patrol Officer Ayona McGilberry, 24, of Metairie, a summons for misdemeanor theft on Monday (March 5), said Lt. Jason Rivarde, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office.

McGilberry, who joined the department in July 2016, has resigned, according to NOPD.

The alleged theft occurred yesterday when the patrol officer was visiting the Apple Store in full uniform to have her iPhone repaired at the Genius Bar (please tell me this was for a battery replacement!). According to the report, Apple Store staff helped the officer with AirPods before she declined to purchase them.

Staff later observed the officer grabbing AirPods anyway while leaving the Apple Store without making a transaction.

When sheriff deputies arrived to the shopping center, the patrol officer had already left the building — but her contact information was readily available after having her iPhone serviced. Using that information, the sheriff’s office was able to follow up with the accusation:

The Sheriff’s Office reached out to NOPD Public Integrity Bureau and made contact with McGilberry, issuing her the summons, Rivarde said.
Unfortunate decision making on the part of the accused police officer, but kudos to the New Orleans area Apple Store staff for protecting their inventory from even the most unassuming suspects.

Tales from the Orchard: Apple’s Michigan Avenue retail store has a major design flaw.

 

How the Apple Store in Chicago became a dangerous place this Winter.

 

 

By Mark Kauffman of Mashable

Ominous, high-hanging icicles have turned Apple’s sleek, MacBook-inspired waterfront store in Chicago into a potentially perilous environment.

Apple has cordoned off, with caution tape and signage, vulnerable areas where the sharp ice could fall. Chicago blogger Matt Maldre first spotted the architectural mishap, brought on by this winter’s severe Arctic blast.

The architectural company Foster + Partners designed the carbon fiber roof to mimic a flat MacBook Pro laptop. They even emblazoned an Apple logo atop the roof — just like on the actual devices.

The building might be a design marvel — with pure glass walls and svelte steel columns — but it apparently lacks much winter utility, notably for a place specifically designed for public gathering, conducive to a social, urbanite atmosphere.
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At the Apple event in September, Apple’s senior vice president of retail, Angela Ahrendts, said forthcoming Apple Stores would be “town square” spaces.

But perhaps not in winter. There are no gutters to catch falling snow or ice. Nor is the roof sloping, so icicles that do form aren’t dangling from 20 some feet overhead.

Indeed, it’s common for icicles to form on buildings in Chicago, especially during these freeze events; so the Apple store isn’t uniquely forming sharp icicles. But come winter, this particular “town square” can become a precarious place.

What are your thoughts on Apple’s “Design over Function” dilemma with it’s newly designed Retail stores? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Tales from the Orchard: Lawsuit revived over Apple retail workers’ pay during security checks

 

 

By Dave Kravets of Arstechnica

Dispute has widespread ramifications about pay for time spent in security checks.

Should Apple retail workers in California be paid for time spent having their purses, backpacks and other belongings checked to make sure they didn’t steal any of Cupertino’s goods—after they have punched out?

Ruling in a class-action lawsuit brought by Apple retail workers, a federal judge answered “no”—California law doesn’t require Apple to pay for that time, even though it’s mandatory that employees who bring purses or other bags to work get them searched while they’re off the clock.

The worker-wage dispute with one of the world’s richest companies didn’t end there. Lawyers for the class-action lawsuit representing thousands of Apple retail workers in California appealed that 2015 decision to the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals. On Wednesday, the appeals court said it couldn’t come to any conclusion in a dispute that the court said had widespread ramifications for California workers who go through security checks at companies like Marshalls, Nordstrom, Federal Express, Best Buy, and other workplaces. The federal appeals court said the answer to whether California wage laws apply to time spent on security checks should be decided by the California Supreme Court.

So the appeals court on Wednesday asked the state Supreme Court to weigh in. It’s a rare practice for the nation’s appeals courts to request—in what is known as a certified question—that the top courts in states interpret controversial issues involving state law.

“The consequences of any interpretation,” the appeals court wrote
the California Supreme Court, (PDF) “will have significant legal, economic, and practical consequences for employers and employees throughout the state of California.”

In short, the suit claims that Apple retail employees spend as much as 20 minutes off the clock having their bags searched to combat employee theft every time they leave work. Apple claims that the searches only take seconds and that they are not “required” for workers who don’t bring purses, backpacks, briefcases, or other bags to work. Apple retail workers, in a 2012 letter to Apple chief Tim Cook, said the policy amounted to treating employees like “criminals.”

The appeals court said the issue was a close call and best left to the California Supreme Court.

The case at issue involves only those employees who voluntarily brought bags to work purely for personal convenience. It is thus certainly feasible for a person to avoid the search by leaving bags at home. But, as a practical matter, many persons routinely carry bags, purses, and satchels to work, for all sorts of reasons. Although not “required” in a strict, formal sense, many employees may feel that they have little true choice when it comes to the search policy, especially given that the policy applies day in and day out. Because we have little guidance on determining where to draw the line between purely voluntary actions and strictly mandatory actions, we are uncertain on which side of the line Plaintiffs’ claim falls.

Workers in California enjoy more employee-friendly regulations than those of the federal government or many other states. The US Supreme Court, for example,ruled in 2014 that warehouse workers for Amazon.com in Nevada could be forced to spend as much as 25 minutes off the clock to undergo security screenings at the end of their shift.

The wage dispute is on hold pending an answer from California’s top court.

Tales from the Orchard – THE 8 BIGGEST ANNOUNCEMENTS FROM APPLE WWDC 2017

 

 

by Natt Garun of The Verge

Apple’s WWDC 2017 keynote just wrapped, where key executives Craig Federighi, Phil Schiller, and, of course, Tim Cook, took the stage to announce updates headed to iPhones, MacBooks, Apple TV, and more.

The rumors for this year’s WWDC came in the final hours leading up to the event, with hints of new hardware and, of course, software news for developers to help prep the release of consumer updates in the fall. We were also anticipating the company to finally take Siri up against the likes of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant on the hardware and smart home front — and it looks like it arrived in the form of the Apple HomePod.

Here are the highlights from today’s keynote.

 

APPLE ANNOUNCES HOMEPOD SPEAKER TO TAKE ON AMAZON ECHO AND SONOS

 

So let’s get the Siri speaker rumors out of the way: it turns out Apple wasn’t quite aiming its smart speaker to go against just Amazon Echo and Google Home, but also the Sonos home entertainment speakers. Called the HomePod, it uses spacial awareness to tune and better fill the room with sound based on the space it’s in. It also has a “Musicologist” feature that works with Apple Music to stream the music you ask the speaker’s built-in Siri to play. You can even ask more complex, music-related questions like “Who’s the drummer in this song?” or “What album came out on this day 20 years ago?”

“APPLE PRICED THE HOMEPOD AT $349”

The HomePod will be available in two colors — black or white — and will integrate Siri in an Amazon Echo / Google Home-like use case. You can ask it to control smart home devices and check the day’s weather and news briefings. Apple priced the HomePod at $349, with plans to ship it in December first to customers in the US, UK, and Australia. It will enter more international markets next year. Check out our hands-on with the HomePod for a first look.

IMAC PRO INTRODUCED, ALONGSIDE UPDATED DESKTOP SPECS

 

Apple’s introducing updated iMac desktops with improved Retina displays, graphics boosts, Kaby Lake processors, and USB-C. They will also support graphics for VR content creation. During the keynote, Apple demoed this by showing off a VR game featuring Darth Vader, a lightsaber, and TIE fighter.

There’s a new iMac Pro as well, with a 5K display with improved cooling capacity, and 8-core Xeon processor (upgradeable up to 18-core,) up to 4TB of SSD, up to 128GB of ECC memory, four Thunderbolt 3 ports, and built-in 10GB Ethernet.

 

The new iMac starts at $1,099 for the 21.5-inch model, and $1,299 for the 4K model. MacBooks will get upgraded, too; the MacBook Pro starting at $1,299, which includes the updated Kaby Lake processor. The iMac Pro starts at $4,999, and ships in December.

IOS 11 COMES WITH IMPROVED SIRI, AUTOMATIC DO NOT DISTURB DRIVING MODE, IMESSAGE FEATURES

The new version of iOS software has some pretty social updates, such as an update to Siri that has improved speech, the ability to help translate sentences into different languages, and on-device learnings that suggest actions based on what you do on your iPhone or iPad. iMessages now live in the iCloud, with synchronized conversations that you can delete from any device you own that are under the same account. You can also pay and receive payments from contacts through iMessage — so no more Venmo or Square Cash if you don’t want to download extra apps.

“SIRI NOW HAS IMPROVED SPEECH”

Photo capture is also improved, with better low-light performance, and the ability to edit Live Photos so you can change the key still image or trim the video. There’s a new control center as well, which relies a lot on 3D Touch and condenses most controls on the lower half of the screen without looking cluttered.

 

There’s also a new safety feature that recognizes when a user is driving and automatically turns on Do Not Disturb to prevent distractions. When you’re available to be more social, you can now head to Apple Music to see what your friends are listening to and check out shared playlists.

Lastly, the App Store has been redesigned for better discovery and a How To section for tips on how to use various popular apps. Apple’s also bringing back the “App of the Day” section to promote users to open the App Store more frequently.

IOS 11 FOR IPAD BRINGS WINDOWS-ESQUE MULTITASKING ABILITIES

On the iPad, iOS 11 improves multitasking that lets users pull up an app from the dock and drag it onto the screen to split the screen. Similar to what you can do on a MacBook, you can use touch to hold and drag folders, files, or photos and drop them in a different app such as Mail or iMessage. Handwritten text from an Apple Pencil will also be searchable from the Notes app. Apple claims it uses “deep learning” to recognize penmanship.

Apple also talked briefly about the Files app that leaked a few hours before the keynote kicked off, which is just a management system that you can use to sort files by size and date, similar to how you’d go through your files on a desktop or laptop.

APPLE LETS DEVELOPERS MAKE MORE IMMERSIVE APPS WITH AR KIT

 

Just as Lauren Goode predicted, Apple introduced a new ARKit to let developers build augmented reality apps for the iPhone. The kit can help find planes, track motion, and estimate scale and ambient lighting. Popular apps like Pokémon Go will also use ARKit for improved real-time renders.

Rather than requiring external hardware like Microsoft’s HoloLens, Apple seems to be betting on ARKit to provide impressive quality imaging through a device most people already own. We’ll know more on how the quality actually compares when we get to try it out ourselves.

 

10.5 INCH iPAD PRO INTRODUCED

The iPad Pro will now be available in three different sizes, with a new 10.5-inch model introduced today. There’s a 12-megapixel camera, just like the iPhone 7, with a 7MP selfie cam. It supports USB 3.0 and has 10 hours of battery life.

There’s a new feature called ProMotion which reduces the Apple Pencil’s latency to 20 milliseconds. It can automatically adjust the refresh rate based on what you’re watching (fast-moving video versus still image). ProMotion also doubles the refresh rate to up to 120Hz.

The 10.5-inch iPad Pro will be available starting with a 64GB configuration at $649; it’s available to order now and shipping next week.

 

THE NEW MACOS IS NAMED HIGH SIERRA. YEP.

The upcoming version of macOS will be called High Sierra, and it comes with updates to Safari that help block site trackers and autoplaying videos. Apple’s also added new photo-editing tools like curves (helpful for those who don’t have Adobe Photoshop), and it has better filtering tools to sort images by keywords or faces.
An updated file management system will be a part of the update as well, which speeds up directory cloning with native encryption. On the graphics end, there’s a second version of Metal, support for VR, and a Metal 2 developer kit that you can order with an AMD GPU to tune apps for external graphics.

WATCHOS 4 BRINGS NEW SIRI WATCHFACE, FITNESS COACHING, AND A NEW APP-BROWSING UI

An update for the Apple Watch is coming which introduces new faces that display different types of informations, such as Siri reminders or more visual ones that feature Toy Story characters a la Mickey Mouse. There’s also a fitness-focused update, which includes monthly challenges to encourage the wearer to get more active and NFC-enabled data sharing where the user can tap their Apple Watch on gym equipment to pair the two, sharing the most accurate calorie burn and activity information.

There’s also a new Music app to make finding and playing music via the Apple Watch more visual — you can now use a new dock layout to scroll through recently opened apps.

Catch up on the latest news from WWDC 2017 right here.

What’s your opinion on Apple’s Announcements? Tell us in the Comments below!

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