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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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Apple Daily: New Retina iMac coming?; Apple Pulls Confederate Flag Apps; Taylor Swift to Stream ’1989′

Apple just involved itself in the timely debate over the display of the Confederate flag by yanking some Civil War-focused games from the App Store, and some onlookers believe Apple’s actions are more harsh than necessary. In other news, Taylor Swift has agreed to allow streaming of her album 1989 on Apple Music, and code in the El Capitan beta hints that we might be seeing a 21.5-inch Retina iMac sometime soon.

OS X El Capitan Beta Code Hints at 21.5-Inch Retina iMac

Once more, secrets in Apple’s code seem to hint at upcoming products, and this time it’s the code for the OS X El Capitan beta suggesting that we can expect a 21.5-inch Retina iMac with 4096 x 2304 resolution at some point in the future (via 9to5Mac). Apple has already released a gigantic 27-inch Retina iMac, but the Cupertino company reportedly has had to wait on the proper chips before it can achieve the same results with a smaller 21.5-inch model.

Adding fuel to the speculation is the discovery of references to a new graphics chipset known as Intel Iris Pro Graphics 6200, which is integrated with Intel’s Broadwell processors and which just launched earlier this month. There’s a chance that the chipset is actually meant to be included in the MacBook line, but it should also work well for a 4K iMac.

The code also points to a new Bluetooth Remote Control, which features a multi-touch trackpad with inertial scrolling support and possible support for Siri commands. Current speculation from multiple outlets seems to agree that this is upcoming redesigned Apple TV remote, which alleged insider sources first discussed with The New York Times back in May.

 

Apple Confirms It’s Removing Apps with Confederate Flag from App Store

Earlier this morning Apple made headlines when Civil War-focused games like Ultimate General: Gettysburg started disappearing from the App Store, presumably in response to the widespread protests against the display of the Confederate flag in the wake of the Charleston church massacre last week. This afternoon, Apple confirmed to BuzzFeed News that it had indeed removed apps from the App Store featuring the Confederate flag, at least if they used it “in offensive or mean-spirited ways.”

In its statement, Apple claims that it hasn’t enacted a wholesale ban on the flag, and that images of the flag can remain if they’re shown for “educational or historical uses.” The problem is that Apple appears to be interpreting “offensive and mean-spirited” quite broadly, as it has even pulled games like Hunted Cow’s Civil War series, which simply features the flag in its historically accurate context as the flag of the army of the Confederate States of America.

Source: Game-Labs

Apple is said to be working with the developers to get their apps on the App Store again, although reportedly this mostly entails replacing the Confederate flag with some other flag. In one case, developer HexWar plans to replace the familiar St. Andrew’s cross with a lesser-known flag from 1861. In the meantime, critics throughout the Internet are pointing out the seeming inconsistency of removing the Confederate flag from such settings while leaving flags with Nazi swastikas visible in iOS games like Wolfenstein 3D.

For its part, Game-Labs, the developer behind Ultimate General: Gettysburg, announced on its blog that won’t redesign its game to fit Apple’s policies. The studio reports that educators have found their game to be a useful tool for teaching history in the classroom, particularly for understanding key battles from the commander’s perspective.

“Spielberg’s ‘Schindler’s List‘ did not try to amend his movie to look more comfortable,” Game-Labs said in its notice. “The historical “Gettysburg” movie (1993) is still on iTunes. We believe that all historical art forms: books, movies, or games such as ours, help to learn and understand history, depicting events as they were. True stories are more important to us than money. Therefore we are not going to amend the game’s content and Ultimate General: Gettysburg will no longer be available on AppStore. We really hope that Apple’s decision will achieve the desired results.”

 

Taylor Swift to Allow Streaming of ’1989′ Album on Apple Music

Mere days after Apple reversed its stance on paying artists during Apple Music’s three-month free trial period following an open letter from singer Taylor Swift, Swift has taken to Twitter to announce that she’ll be streaming her hit album 1989 on Apple Music after all. Last week, Swift announced on Tumblr that she was pulling the album in protest of Apple’s initial decision not to pay artists during the trial.

Late yesterday, The New York Times revealed that Apple would pay artists 0.2 cents for each song streamed during a customer’s trial period, which potentially amounts to a hefty sum of cash considering Apple’s pool of millions of listeners. Swift claimed on Twitter that her decision wasn’t based on any exclusive deal with Apple (such as the one Pharrell Williams made for iTunes exclusivity with his upcoming single “Freedom”), but rather because she believes this “is simply the first time it’s felt right in my gut to stream my album.” Swift’s 1989 album currently isn’t available for streaming on Spotify, one of Apple’s chief rivals in the streaming arena.

The news follows on the heels of yesterday’s revelation that Apple’s decision to pay artists during the trial period had won over indie music rights holders Beggars Group and Merlin Network, thus bringing over 20,000 indie music brands over to Apple Music in time for the service’s launch on June 30. The Cupertino company announced Apple Music as the “one more thing” during this year’s WWDC keynote on June 8, where it also revealed that users will pay a monthly subscription fee of .99 following a three-month free trial period.

The service will initially launch for the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, and PC, although versions for Apple TV and Android are expected to appear sometime this fall.

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

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Apple Daily: Offline Listening for Apple Music; Six-Digit Passcodes; 6,000 Apple Watch Apps

Now that the dust has settled in the wake of yesterday’s WWDC keynote address, many more little tidbits of information that Apple wasn’t able to cram into its lengthy presentation are making their way in the wild. In today’s Apple Daily, we discuss some of these, such as the ability to download music for offline listening through Apple Music or the option to enter a six-digit passcode. In addition, we pass along some news about the Apple Watch.

Apple Confirms Apple Music Will Support Offline Listening

One of the most appealing features of existing music streaming services is the ability to save your favorite music for offline listening, and in a statement to Re/code, Apple confirmed that Apple Music will allow this feature as well. In addition, it’s now listed as part of the features of the service on Apple’s own website.

“As an Apple Music member you can add anything from the Apple Music library — a song, an album or a video — to your collection,” Apple said in its statement. “And that’s just the warm-up act. From there you can create the perfect playlist from anything you’ve added. You can save it for offline listening and take it on the road.”

Spotify and Google Play Music already offer similar services. Spotify Premium only allows downloads for offline listening if you’re a subscriber, after which you have 30 days before you’ll need to connect to the Internet again. Google Play Music allows offline downloads for most of its music (particularly since a big feature of the service is its ability to “mirror” your existing library), but subscribing extends the feature to albums, playlists, and radio stations.

The details of how Apple’s service will work remain unknown, but it’s likely that it won’t deviate significantly from the models above.

 

iOS 9 Will Support Six-Digit Passcodes By Default

For those iOS users who want a little more security beyond four-digit passcodes and Touch ID, Apple is bringing a tiny dose of extra protection with iOS 9. When the Cupertino company’s next mobile operating system comes around, you’ll have the option to enter a six-digit passcode instead.

The news created a small bit of confusion this morning, when it was believed (based on Apple’s wording) that you’d only be able to use six-digit passwords beginning with iOS 9. It turns out, however, that six is only the default option; if you want to go back to the simpler four, you’re free to in Settings.

Granted, many people will probably still enter passcodes like “123456,” and thus the security involved is still partly up to the user. But Apple notes that six digits should make phones much harder to crack, as six digits allows for 1 million variations of the passcode instead of the 10,000 for four digits.

It’s also worth noting that Apple is implementing this measure in the face of widespread criticism from U.S. Government figures. Among the most notable is FBI Director James Comey, who argues that Apple’s focus on security makes it too hard to for the agency to catch criminals, terrorists, and similar unsavory folk.

 

Apple Watch Exceeds 6,000 Apps; eBay App Returns

Apple Music stole the show yesterday, but the Apple Watch wasn’t a slouch, either. the company announced a massive number of little tweaks and new features for the device, and hinted that the response from developers had been great. (Noticeably, Apple shied away from actual sales numbers.) And it’s really great, according to information from App Annie (via Cult of Mac). Based on their research, Apple’s scrappy little smartwatch boasts an impressive 6,352 apps and counting.

Not bad, considering the device only launched in April, although even then it had already amassed an impressive collection of around 3,000 apps. The news also reveals how far mobile apps have come in the last few years, as the iPhone launched with only 500 apps at launch.

On a similar note, today was also noteworthy for the reappearance of the official eBay app for Apple Watch, which was pulled shortly before the device’s launch despite extensive promotion from Apple. As noted in a report from TechCrunch, the dedicated app allows “both buyers and sellers to receive updates and alerts related to items they’re tracking on eBay’s marketplace.”

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

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Apple Daily: Ping-Like Service Coming to ‘Apple Music’?; Apple Opens Apps Analytics Beta

In today’s Apple Daily, we learn some more details about Apple’s upcoming music streaming service, plus Apple today opened its App Analytics beta to all developers who design apps for iOS.

New Streaming Service Reportedly Called ‘Apple Music’, Will Feature Ping-Like Network

Anonymous sources associated with Apple have reportedly spoken again, and this time they claim that Apple’s upcoming music streaming service most likely will be called “Apple Music,” and that it will include a built-in social networking service for artists to promote their work (via 9to5Mac).

The service supposedly recalls Ping, the dead social networking system for iTunes that Apple created for the same purpose back in 2010 before shutting it down in 2012 in favor of Facebook and Twitter integration. Apple Music users would be able to follow artists with the service (although they won’t be able to create their own profiles), and artists themselves could use the service to share “track samples, photos, videos, and concert updates.”

As 9to5 Mac cheekily puts it, “Artists will also be able to share the content of other artists in an effort of cross-promotion. For example, all-gold Apple Watch wearer Kanye West could promote a new album from Taylor Swift on his ‘Apple Music’ artist page, if he so chooses…”

 

Apple Opens App Analytics Beta to All Developers

It’s been only a few days since Apple revealed a new Apps Analytics program that allows developers to see usage statistics associated with their work, and now the Cupertino company has given all developers free access to the beta. If you’re already a member of the iOS Developer Program, then it’s free.

The Apps Analytics platform reportedly tells much more besides download statistics; it also tells developers how much time users spend with apps and where their apps are the most popular. In order to use the service, you’ll need to log into iTunes Connect (if you’re an app developer, of course).

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

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Apple Daily: Over 1,000 Apple Watch Apps; 8K iMac This Year?

In today’s Apple Daily, Apple reveals that developers have responded enthusiastically to the Apple Watch. In other news, LG may have let slip an announcement of an 8K resolution iMac from Apple long before the company wanted anyone to know about it.

Tim Cook: Over 1,000 Apps Submitted for Apple Watch

Just a few days ahead of April 10, the day when Apple Watch pre-orders are expected to go live, Apple CEO Tim Cook sent out an e-mail to employees this morning revealing that over 1,000 apps were submitted for the device mere days after Apple started accepting them.

In addition, he noted that Apple employees who wish to get their own units can get most versions for 50 percent off their regular prices. According to information apparently obtained from AppleWeb, Apple’s inside support website, employees can also get 0 off the price of the mega-expensive gold Apple Watch Edition.

The information was passed along from internal employees to sources at 9to5Mac, which has reproduced the content of the 336-word memo in full.

“Some of the most innovative developers in the world are working on new experiences designed specifically for Apple Watch,” Cook said regarding apps for the upcoming device. “More than one thousand apps were submitted in just four days last week when the App Store started accepting them, and the rate of submissions has only been climbing since then.”

 

LG Display: Apple ‘Will Release’ 8K Resolution iMac

The 5K Retina iMac has been out for less than a year, but according to a new information doc from LG Display, Apple might be already to trump it. The document was meant to play up to potential of 8K (or, more specifically, 7,680 by 4,320) screens, and nestled in the information about who’s on board with the tech is a reference to Apple, who has supposedly already “announced” an upcoming 8K screen.

Based on public sources, at least, Apple hasn’t. Most innocently, the reference in the LG doc could be a mistake, but if you want to indulge in rumors and theories, it’s possible it’s one of those insider knowledge things that managed to slip through the cracks. There’s an element of possibility in this in that LG has supplied Apple with displays for years. The information also doesn’t come from some obscure rumor blog; this is a major manufacturer printing information that’s expected to go out to thousands of potential buyers. Specifically, the excerpt reads:

“It has become clear that Japan is planning to launch an 8K SHV test broadcast and then promptly restructure the UHD service. Apple has also announced that they will release the ‘iMac 8K’ with a super-high resolution display later this year. Korea is also preparing to offer an 8K service demonstration at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. LG Display displayed a new beacon of the 8K era by revealing their 98-inch 8K Color Prime Ultra HDTV at CES 2015.”

The page, tellingly, has been taken down since this morning, when it attracted the attention of several sites. It’s still available in its original form on the Internet Archive’s WaybackMachine, though, so you can check it out here.

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

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