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Apple Special Event: Apple Announces New Bands, Apps, Colors for Apple Watch

Today’s highly anticipated “Hey, Siri” event kicked off today (preceded by some music from Beats 1, which was a nice change of pace) after Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the company would have “monster announcements” across several product lines.

Cook started off with some news about the Apple Watch, pointing out that many customers “love” using the device, to the point that he claims that customer satisfaction is at “90 percent.” After that brief introduction, Jeff Williams, SVP of operations, came on the stage to talk about the Apple Watch in greater detail.

Williams started off his segment of the presentation by talking about the third-party “complications” announced back during WWDC’s discussion of watchOS 2 — the features that tell additional information on your watchface. He also took the opportunity to very briefly show off a few third-party apps for the Apple Watch, such as ones from GoPro and Facebook Messenger. Williams also spoke about home-grown apps such as iTranslate and Transit for navigation.

Source: WSJ

Williams then invited Dr. Cameron Powell from AirStrip to take the stage to talk about the AirStrip app, a health app that fits well with some of those early rumors we heard about the Apple Watch. It’s specifically aimed at healthcare providers, and it lets them view their patients’ schedules and see their patients’ vital information through their Apple Watch interface. That includes the ability to monitor heart rates, and Powell demonstrated that it’s even possible to use the app to differentiate a baby’s heart rate from that of her mother. By using the crown on the side of the device, a health care professional can scan through a patient’s’ vital history.

Williams took then took the stage again to announce that the Apple Watch would also comes in the expected rose gold color option in addition to a regular gold option. The expected new bands for the Apple Watch Sport also made an appearance with widely different colors, in addition to a new (Product) Red band.

Apple is also working with Hermes to release a new leather band option for the Apple Watch with three different style options. The Hermes bands will be in Apple Stores in October, he said.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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Spring Forward Event: Apple Announces Open-Source ‘ResearchKit’ for Medical Research

Apple’s now apparently confident enough about the Health capabilities of iOS 8 to pay it more than cursory attention, and as such, Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of operations, took the stage to talk about it for several minutes. Williams took the occasion to announce ResearchKit, which will allow Apple to actively help with medical research.

ResearchKit will kick off with five apps specifically targeted at diseases such as Parkinson’s. The apps are available today.

“Now anybody with an iPhone can contribute to Parkinson’s research,” Williams said.

The apps use the iPhone’s existing capabilities to help with the research. Say “ahhh” into the microphone, for instance, and the app will detect tremors in your voice. Walk around, and it’ll measure your gait. And if you’re interested in seeing how your progress is going rather than passively getting involved in the study, the apps produce graphs that show things like “tremor severity” and “activity level.”

Peripheral tools also come into play, though: for instance, researchers monitoring asthma will be able to use Bluetooth inhalers with the service.

Privacy is of course a concern, and Apple says that it won’t be looking at any of the related data (which is opt-in only)–only researchers will. The service will thus allow researchers to create their own opt-in research surveys, and to make matters easier, Apple says the software behind ResearchKit will be open source.

“This is exactly where medicine is going,” said one doctor in an followup video from Apple. “It has to.”

Cook took the stage to talk about the new MacBook afterward, but managed to say one more thing about ResearchKit: “This is going to change medical research in a way that’s truly profound and we’re proud to be a part of it.”

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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Apple Daily: Apple to Sell Unlocked iPhone 6; iDevices Announces HomeKit Plug

A new year is here, but you’ll have to wait a little while longer if you want to learn just how much Apple raked in while shoppers were filling their stockings with iPhones and MacBooks — January 27, to be exact. For now, though, we’ve got some good news about SIM-free iPhones and Apple’s HomeKit in our first Apple Daily news roundup for 2015.

Apple to Start Offering SIM-Free iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Units in Apple Stores Tomorrow

If you’re a T-Mobile customer, you already have access to a unlocked, SIM-free iPhone. Lucky you! But for the rest of us, Apple will start selling unlocked, SIM-free iPhone 6 and 6 Plus units directly from its physical and online retail stores starting tomorrow, according to 9to5Mac.

That’s especially good news for frequent travelers, as the unlocked, SIM-free phones allow you to switch out cards as needed anywhere in the world without having to worry about the occasionally hefty fees associated with sticking with one carrier.

According to MacRumors, however, Apple’s been selling these unlocked phones for months now as long as the consumer buys the device at its full retail price, although the Cupertino company hasn’t been marketing it as such.

And that remains the catch. You’ll have to buy the iPhones at full price, which means you’ll end up paying 9/9/9 for the 16/64/128 GB versions of the iPhone 6, or 9/9/9 for the 16/64/128 GB of the iPhone 6 Plus. In the right circumstances, though, it’s certainly worth it.

iDevices Released ‘Switch’ for HomeKit, Allowing Remote Control of Appliances

Apple’s HomeKit service for iOS isn’t quite the Jetsons-style automation service that many commentators imagined it would be, but it’s nifty nonetheless. Visitors to the Consumer Electronics Show 2015 today got a glimpse into what awaits us in the future with the service with iDevices’ new “Switch” plug, which lets users controls many lights and appliances throughout their homes with Siri.

iDevices calls Switch the “the world’s first HomeKit-enabled plug,” and it works by plugging an object such as a bedside lamp into the Switch and then controlling the object through Siri on an iPhone. The Siri voice controls thus allow Switch users to bypass the extra cumbersome step of opening a dedicated app to use it. If everything’s set up properly, you can tell Siri to “turn off the lights in the bedroom” and off they’ll go.

Switch is small, too: iDevices demonstrated today that it only takes up one socket on a traditional American wall panel. You can access it through both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and it doesn’t need to work through a central hub. Pricing isn’t available yet, but you can sign up for more information over at the official site for Switch (at the bottom).

Apple to Livestream Q1 2015 Earnings Call on Jan. 27

Apple’s next quarterly earning report should be full of big numbers and good news for investors, and the Cupertino company announced today that it will livestream audio from the conference call to the public on Tuesday, January 27 at 2:00 p.m. PST/5:00 p.m. EST.

During the Q1 earnings call last year, Apple reported that it had earned revenues of billion based on the sales of 39 million iPhones, 12.3 million iPads, and 5.5 million Macs. Considering the massive popularity of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus over the last couple of months, the company is easily poised to beat those most of those figures for the upcoming report.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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As Apple Watch Pressure Builds, TAG Heuer Announces Smartwatch Plans

Remember back in March, when Swiss watchmakers were said to be dismissive and unwilling to work with Apple on its rumored Apple Watch project? Some are apparently already regretting that attitude as we inch closer to the device’s launch. Today LVMH watch head Jean-Claude Biver announced that he’d “changed his mind,” reports Reuters, and he’s partnering with unspecified tech companies as he attempts to make a smartwatch of the company’s own.

Specifically, the watch is being developed for TAG Heuer, the largest brand under LVMH’s domain, as Biver announced during a press conference today at TAG Heuer’s headquarters in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.

“We started on the project about four months ago. We have done several partnerships and might also do acquisitions,” Biver said.

Visitors to the conference didn’t get to see a prototype or concept art, but they did learn that TAG Heuer’s device will be powered by an Intel processor and will feature both mechanical and digital parts. Reporters asked if Google or Intel were directly involved with the project, but Biver declined to comment. Currently, Biver projects TAG’s own device will be properly announced sometime in late 2015.

That’s quite the switch from late September, when Biver said the Apple Watch “has no sex appeal. It’s too feminine and looks too much like the smartwatches already on the market.” Since Biver claims the project has been in the works for about four months, it seems he gave the go-ahead to the product not long after seeing Apple’s own take on the smartwatch.

“We want to launch a smartwatch at TAG Heuer, but it must not copy the Apple Watch,” Biver said just a week after the Apple Watch’s announcement. “We cannot afford to just follow in somebody else’s footsteps.”

Somewhere out there, Apple design chief Jony Ive is probably smiling to himself. Back in September, before the Apple Watch was officially announced, Ive reportedly said that Switzerland was in trouble, although according to the New York Times, “he reportedly used a much more colorful word than ‘trouble’ to express his sentiments about the renowned watchmaking nation.”

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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Apple Announces WWDC 2013 Live Stream via Safari, Apple TV

WWDC 2013

Miss the old days when you could tune in to an Apple keynote and feel like you were right there as new products were announced? Then you’ll want to saddle up, partner — today is one of those days.

Apple announced Monday that its WWDC 2013 keynote will be streamed live via the web and Apple TV devices starting at 10am PST (1pm EST) today, which will certainly knock some of the wind out of the sails of tech websites who were planning live blogs for the event.

Viewing the keynote address requires Safari on iOS 4.2 or later on any iPhone, iPad, iPad mini or iPod touch; Safari 4 or later on Mac OS X v10.6 or later. Streaming via Apple TV requires second or third generation Apple TV with software 5.0.2 or later.

What will Cupertino announce? That’s anyone’s guess, but judging from the banners already hanging in Moscone West, a preview of iOS 7 and the next version of OS X appear to be sure bets.

The WWDC 2013 keynote kicks off on Monday, June 10 at 10am PST.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

 

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