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Apple Daily: Apple’s Original TV Programming; Offline Movies from Amazon; Next-Gen Stores

Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu have all caught the “original television programming” bug, and now Apple apparently wants in on the action, too. In other news, you can now download videos from Amazon Prime Video to your iPhone or iPad for offline viewing, and the first of Apple’s next-generation retail stores is reportedly coming to a Memphis suburb.

Apple Allegedly ‘Flirting’ With Producing Its Own TV Shows

Apple recently bolstered its presence in the music world with the introduction of Apple Music, and according to a new report from Variety, the Cupertino company now wants to get on some of the action that services like Netflix and Amazon are enjoying and start making its own television programming. Apparently, “preliminary conversations” have already started. As with all of Apple’s digital content endeavors, Apple’s Eddy Cue is reportedly heading the project.

It’s currently unknown, however, just how far Apple wants to go with the idea. One source who spoke with the magazine claims that Apple wants to make its own original shows and movies and is prepared to create the necessary production departments. Yet another claims that Apple is merely “flirting” with the idea, although reportedly it did recently make a try to nab Top Gear stars Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond after their departure from the BBC.

Apple’s current homegrown media offerings are largely limited to the Beats branch of the business, through which Apple hosts the acclaimed Beats 1 radio station and reportedly produces videos for the likes of Drake and Eminem.


Amazon Prime Video Now Allows Offline Viewing for iOS Devices

Speaking of television content services, Amazon just scored a massive victory over Netflix today with its announcement that Amazon Prime Video users can download movies and television shows on their iPhones and iPads for offline viewing. Best of all, there’s no additional charge for the service if you’re an Amazon Prime member. The company expects to have a wider release for the service down the road, but for now the service is limited to Prime customers in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and Austria.

The catch is that not all shows are available for offline viewing, although Amazon claims that “thousands” are ready to download. And these aren’t piddly releases, either — current offerings include everything from Downton Abbey to Star Trek: Into Darkness.

“There’s no doubt that the way people watch entertainment is changing — anytime, anywhere viewing is important and we are excited to provide our Prime members with offline viewing capabilities on iOS and Android platforms starting today,” said Amazon digital video chief Michael Paull in the release. “We are proud to be the first and only online subscription streaming service that enables offline viewing — on vacation, in a car, at the beach, on a plane, wherever our Prime members want to watch they can, regardless of internet connection.”

Amazon previously allowed offline viewing through its Kindle Fire tablet, but this marks the first time that the feature has been available outside of the company’s own ecosystem. You can download the relevant app for free here.


Apple’s First ‘Next-Generation’ Store in U.S. Coming to Memphis

Apple is reportedly seeking a building permit to renovate a new storefront at 2031 West St. in Memphis’ Germantown suburb, which isn’t really news in itself. But as the Memphis Daily News reports, Apple representative Rick Millitello claims that the new store will be one of the first next-generation Apple Stores. Rumors about what to expect from Apple’s overhaul of its stores have been circulating ever since The New Yorker‘s profile of Jony Ive mentioned an upcoming “redesign,” and the Germantown plans provide us our first glimpse of what to expect.

Apple’s existing Germantown store. Photo: Daniel McGarry

Some of the changes aren’t too surprising, such as Apple’s plan to replace the building’s existing brick facade with three huge glass panels and to fill the room with natural oak display tables. But hints of what to expect reveal themselves in other details, such as the way the building’s exterior will have matte granite reinforced panels and a changeable display that exhibits artwork, “living plants at times, TV displays,” and other things.

Apple’s existing store in the area is across the street at 7615 W. Farmington Blvd. in the Shops of Saddle Creek North. Once it opens, the new store will be located in the Shops of Saddle Creek South. Millitello also said that multiple overseas locations will also see the redesigned stores this fall.

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


Apple Daily: Two-Finger Touchpad on iPhone; Details Emerge from Apple Employee Lawsuit

Apple’s two-finger trackpad option isn’t just coming to the iPad, it turns out: we’ll also be getting it on the iPhone. In addition, some new details emerge about a failed class action lawsuit against Apple from last year.

Two-Finger Trackpad Shortcut Coming to iPhone As Well As iPad

One of the niftier features announced for the iPad during the WWDC keynote was the ability to turn the iPad’s digital keyboard into a trackpad by tapping on it with two fingers at once. Apple didn’t say as much during the presentation itself (likely on account of all the information they needed to get out), but developers with current access to iOS 9 have noticed that the feature will be coming to the iPhone as well (via Cult of Mac).


The feature is aimed at increasing productivity on the devices, as you can use it to copy and paste text and bold, italicize, and underline words more easily. The feature was announced along with some other multitasking features, such as the long-awaited ability to view two apps at once on the iPad.


Tim Cook on Employee Bag Checks: ‘Is This True?’

News surfaced late last year that a few Apple retail employees had started a class-action lawsuit against Apple arguing that the employees were responsible for wages lost while they had to endure mandatory bag checks while leaving, but it was shot down following another ruling favorable to Amazon. Now, however, papers from the suit have come to light (via Reuters), and they reveal a better picture of the story behind it.

In Amazon’s case, the Supreme Court ruled that the employees couldn’t demand wages for the search time because it was not a part of the job they were being paid to do. As a result, the judge involved with Apple’s case threw it out because of the similar circumstances.

In the Apple case, however, Apple at least one employee noted the perceived indignity of the process, as the “procedures are often performed in front of gawking customers.” Apple’s workers, the employee in question argued, should be treated with the same respect that Apple affords its customers.

Now that the papers are unsealed, it appears that one of the employees behind the suit sent Apple CEO Tim Cook a personal e-mail about the practice, and Cook didn’t even seem to know it was a thing. When he forwarded the e-mail to the Cupertino company’s top retail and human resources executives, he simply asked, “Is this true?” No response to Cook was documented in the papers unveiled today.

Another e-mail was sent from Beijing to Cook as regards Apple’s employees there, where it was said Apple treats its employees like “animals” and thieves, even to the point of sealing off an emergency exit with Apple products. Cook’s responses to this aren’t on file, but Denise Young Smith, Apple’s vice president of human resources, is on record as saying, “If it is simply a deterrent there has to be a more intelligent and respectful way to approach.”

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


WWDC 2015: Metal Makes Leap from iOS to OS X El Capitan

WWDC 2015 Fortnite

On the heels of a faux behind-the-scenes video, Tim Cook introduction, and rundown of new features coming with OS X El Capitan, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi kept the momentum going by announcing the arrival of Metal to the desktop platform.

Harkening the return of “Back to the Mac,” the iOS graphics technology Metal is making a leap onto the desktop with OS X El Capitan this fall, effectively replacing OpenGL with up to 40 percent greater rendering efficiency for gamers and other high-impact graphics applications.

“Metal combines the computing power of OpenCL and the graphics power of OpenGL in a high-performance API that does both,” Federighi explained.

Among the high-profile developers joining the Metal camp are Adobe, who managed to infuse After Effects with an 8x improvement in rendering time with the improved graphics. The venerable software publisher plans to implement Metal across all of their OS X applications in the future.

The rundown on OS X El Capitan wrapped up with Epic Games hitting the stage for a quick demonstration of what gaming publishers can expect from Metal on the Mac. The demo included a peek at how Fortnite was built using the Unreal Editor with Metal, and the game will be released in beta later this fall.

Federighi closed by announcing that developers will be able to get their hands on a beta of OS X El Capitan today, with a public beta due next month. As usual, the final version will be a free update available this fall.

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



Apple Daily: New iOS 8 Beta Open to Public; New Info from Upcoming Jobs Biography

If you’re not a developer but you’ve always wanted to tinker with Apple’s iOS betas before they go live, today’s your lucky day! In other news, it turns out that the new Steve Jobs biography set for release later this month is as full of new stories and information as originally claimed.

Apple Opens iOS Beta Testing to the Public with Today’s Patch

Today Apple seeded a new beta for iOS 8.3, and it’s significant as it’s the first iOS beta that members of the public can download for testing — provided, that is, that they’ve already signed up for Apple’s public beta tests. Apple has also updated its associated Appleseed site to reflect the changes.

The opening of iOS betas to people aside from developers comes on the heels of Apple’s apparent successes with open betas for Mac OS X Yosemite. Previously, betas for OS X and iOS were only available to developers who’d forked out the annual fee.

Apple is still apparently in the process of rolling out the beta to all users in the program, as the new iOS beta currently isn’t listed for some existing testers, but that should change throughout the rest of the day and tomorrow.

Keep in mind that this is a beta, and thus potentially unstable by its very nature. Users will almost certainly find bugs (and after all, that’s the point), and there’s always a small chance something about the beta could do some damage to your device. But if you can’t wait to experience what Apple has up its sleeves for yourself, it’s the best way to do it.


Upcoming Steve Jobs Biography Reveals New Information

The upcoming biography about Steve Jobs by reporter Brent Schlender and Fast Company editor Rick Tetzeli won’t be out until March 24, but in the meantime, Cult of Mac has previewed the book, entitled Becoming Steve Jobs, based on Amazon’s “Look Inside the Book” feature. The excerpt wasn’t much, but it was enough to show that earlier claims about the book  being stuffed with new insights and stories about the Apple co-founder were true.

One of the most notable portions tells about how current Apple CEO Tim Cook offered Steve Jobs a segment of his own liver because the two shared the same blood type, but Jobs refused. Jobs turned down the offer.

“Somebody that’s selfish doesn’t reply like that,” Cook says. Indeed, the book as a whole paints of different picture of Steve Jobs, and one that clashes with the image of Jobs as an self-centered man that became so strong in the wake of the release of Walter Isaacson’s increasingly maligned biography (particularly from people like Cook, Eddy Cue, and Jony Ive, who knew Jobs personally).

As Cook himself reportedly says in the book, Isaacson’s biography “was just a rehash of a bunch of stuff that had already been written, and focused on small parts of his personality. You get the feeling that [Jobs was] a greedy, selfish egomaniac. It didn’t capture the person. The person I read about there is somebody I would never have wanted to work with over all this time. Life’s too short.”

The brief glimpse into the book also reveals that Apple did, in fact, toy with buying Yahoo in order to get an easy start into the search business. Elsewhere, Dormehl and Tetzeli diverge significantly from Isaacson by saying that Jobs wasn’t interested in television.

“I just don’t like television,” Jobs reportedly told Apple design chief Jony Ive. “Apple will never make a TV again.”

You can preorder Becoming Steve Jobs from Amazon yourself for .78. The book is also available for preorder on Apple’s own iBooks platform for .99.

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


Apple Daily: Apple Watch Changing Apple Stores, Photos from Jobs Biopic, GT Advanced Facility

The official release of Danny Boyle’s upcoming Steve Jobs biopic is still many months away, but new photos allow us to see how well Michael Fassbender and Seth Rogen fill their new roles. In addition, Apple’s making some key changes to its retail stores in order to accommodate the Apple Watch, and it looks like Apple’s planning on living up to its promises regarding its old sapphire crystal facility in Arizona.

Photos Show Fassbender and Rogen as Jobs and Wozniak

Mere days after Universal Pictures released the final cast list for Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs biopic, The Daily Mail already has photos showing Michael Fassbender and Seth Rogen in their respective roles of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. The shots show Fassbender sporting Jobs’ longish cut from the early ’80s (and reinforce the perception that he looks almost nothing like Jobs), and Seth Rogen looking like, well, Seth Rogen.

Among the news that came out of the big Sony hack is the revelation that Boyle believes Fassbender has the acting chops to pull off the role despite his unfamiliarity compared to early Jobs candidates like Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale. Here’s to hoping his performance onscreen dispels most of the current doubts.

Filming for the biopic is currently taking place at multiple locations from Apple’s history, such as the legendary garage where Wozniak and Jobs built the first Apple computers and Cupertino’s Flint Center, where Jobs unveiled the first Mac back in 1984.


Apple to House Gold Apple Watches in On-Site Safes After Hours

The Apple Watch apparently won’t just change Apple’s product line; it’ll change part of the Apple retail store experience as well. Over the weekend 9to5Mac revealed via unidentified sources that Apple is planning on outfitting its stores with safes in order to house the pricey gold “Edition” versions of its upcoming Apple Watch after hours, thus taking cues from traditional jewelry stores.

In addition, Apple is reportedly planning on bringing weight scales to each store, which will allow employees to weigh the gold Apple Watches in the event of a return or replacement to ensure that the original gold band hasn’t been switched out with cheaper materials.

On a lighter note, the fancy new jewelry store trappings extend even to the clothes the employees wear in the store. Starting today, employees will be seen wearing either the familiar crew necks or a new blue polo variant, which brings some elegance in accordance with the company’s new luxurious offerings.


Apple to Turn Former GTAT Sapphire Facility into Green Data Center

True to its word, Apple is repurposing the giant facility in Mesa, Arizona that once housed its failed venture into sapphire crystal with GT Advanced Technologies. According to a report from the Associated Press, the Cupertino company will pump billion more dollars over the next 10 years into the location, which will now serve as a green “global command” data center employing 150 people full-time.

Apple already has four other data centers based in the U.S., but the former sapphire crystal plant will emerge as the one ring that binds them all together. A statement from Apple confirms that it will be “powered by 100 percent renewable energy, much of which will come from a new local solar farm.”

Construction is expected to begin sometime later next year. Why the delay? For the time being, the facility is still stuffed with all those sapphire crystal furnaces, which are currently being liquidated in accordance with GT Advanced’s bankruptcy.

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


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