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Apple Daily: iPhone 6s Package Leaks, Apple Car Talks, iTunes European Migrant Aid

Before all eyes turn to the arrival of new iPhone 6s models on September 25, we’ve got an early peek at what the packaging looks like in leaked photos. Our Friday edition of Apple Daily also sheds the spotlight on Cupertino’s apparent talks with the California DMV about self-driving cars, as well as how the iPhone maker plans to help with aid for the ongoing European migrant crisis. Wrap up your work week with all the latest news, right here!

Sneak a Peek at New iPhone 6s Packaging One Week Early

Only a week remains before the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus land in stores and the hands of customers, but photos have already begun to surface of what the packaging and looks like as orders are winging their way around the globe.

iPhone 6s packaging leak

Spanish website iPhoneros posted a series of photos of unopened iPhone 6s boxes en route from China, while Chinese site Feng was able to actually break the shrink wrap on at least one box to snap a few photos of the new rose gold model. Of note, the back of the case now includes the small “S” to differentiate this year’s cosmetically similar 6s from last year’s iPhone 6, the first time Apple has differentiated S models with such markings.

Report: Apple Talks Autonomous Vehicles with California DMV

The Guardian today reported Apple executives have apparently shared some of their plans for an “autonomous vehicle” with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), lending credence to recent rumors about the possibility of a so-called “Apple Car” in the near future.

Self-driving automobile

According to leaked internal documents, Apple senior legal counsel Mike Maletic “had an hour-long meeting” with “self-driving car experts” at the DMV on August 17. The report doesn’t elaborate on what the discussions were about, but DMV officials described the meeting as a cursory review of the department’s autonomous vehicle regulations.

One thing’s for sure: Apple won’t be able to maintain its customary veil of secrecy on the project. The report notes the California DMV requires manufacturers to divulge “the make, model and vehicle identification number (VIN) of cars they want to test, share details of autonomous features and capabilities, and identify test drivers by name” before a permit can be issued.

Apple Pledges “Substantial Donation” to European Migrant Aid

As you may have seen by now, the iTunes Store is now accepting donations to the American Red Cross relief efforts for European refugees and migrants, which can be sent from Mac or iOS devices in , , , 0, or 0 amounts. Apple has partnered with the non-profit organization for many such relief efforts in the past, most recently earlier this year in the wake of the devastating earthquake in Nepal.

American Red Cross donations

In addition to raising money from its customers, Reuters is reporting Apple CEO Tim Cook has pledged a “substantial donation” to aid relief agencies, according to an internal memo to employees on Friday. In the document, the executive pledges to “match employee donations to the cause two-to-one.”

“Apple is dedicated to advancing human rights around the world,” the memo reads. “We hope the actions we’re taking will help make the situation less desperate for some, and ease the hardship so many are enduring.”

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


Apple Daily: Apple Watch Packaging; HBO NOW Live; Star Wars on iTunes

Want a look at the packaging for the Apple Watch? An Instagram user may have you covered. In other news, it’s a great day for Apple-oriented television and movie lovers, as HBO’s cable-free streaming service went live this morning. In addition, all six Star Wars movies will soon be available on iTunes.

Apple Watch Packaging Photos Surface on Instagram

You won’t be able to get your hands on an Apple Watch until Friday, but thanks to Instagram user Jeremy Gan (who has since made his profile private), you can get a look of what almost certainly is the new packaging for the Apple Watch. As MacRumors notes, the photos appear to have been taken at the Daily Mail’s New York offices, where the publication possible already has a device, but it’s quite possible we’re looking at a fake unit.

Source: MacRumors

Still, it doesn’t seem like it, and if it is, that’s a darned good fakery of a 42mm stainless steel Apple Watch with a Milanese Loop band. Gan also included photos of what looks like the packaging for Apple Watch bands.


HBO NOW Goes Live for Apple Devices

At last, the age of cable-free “cable” programming may finally be here. Today HBO NOW went live for Apple TV, iPhones, Macs, and iPads, thus kicking off an Apple-exclusive relationship for three months that will allow Apple users to enjoy the network’s entire content offerings for a mere .99 per month. And if you sign up this month (April), you’ll get the first month for free.

As expected, the service comes just in time for viewers to catch the new season of Game of Thrones, which begins airing on Sunday, April 12. In a similar fashion to existing streaming services like Amazon Instant Video and Netflix, HBO NOW categorizes programming according to “Series,” “Movies,” and “More,” and it comes with a Watchlist feature to ensure you can keep track of your favorite shows.

The official app is available for download on both iPhone and iPad right now, and you can start watching as soon as you sign up for a subscription. You can also enjoy the content’s service from a Mac by visiting HBO NOW’s official website.

All Six Star Wars Movies to Come to iTunes This Friday

As of this Friday, April 10, all three Star Wars movies will be available for download on iTunes (in addition to other, similar digital distribution sites) for the first time ever. You’ll be able to purchase each movie separately or as part of collections, and the release also makes the appearance of two all-new special features.

The new special features include “Conversations,” which showcases some of the series’ most notable actors and crew members talking about their time making the films. In addition, you’ll find “Star Wars: Discoveries From Inside,” which includes some behind-the-scenes footage regarding how the sets and costumes were made.

Unfortunately for some, this release includes the updated, digitally altered versions of the original trilogy rather than the theatrical releases. Pricing for the “collections” hasn’t been announced yet, but you can currently pre-order each of the movies individually on iTunes for .99 each.

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


Apple Daily: Force Touch May Only Come to iPhone 6s Plus; Autism Apps on iTunes

In today’s Apple Daily, a rumor pops up claiming that Apple’s new Force Touch technology may only come to the so-called iPhone 6s Plus and not to its smaller sibling. In other news, Apple has assembled a useful and educational assortment of apps in honor of World Autism Awareness Day.

Rumor: Force Touch May Only Come to iPhone 6s Plus

If you’re hoping to use Apple’s new Force Touch technology with the upcoming iPhone, a new report from Taiwan’s Economic Daily News (via MacRumors) claims you’d be best off pinning your hopes on the larger “iPhone 6s Plus.” Still, it’s all a matter of speculation, as it’s merely based on the fact that the relevant sources refer only to the iPhone 6s Plus and not the smaller iPhone 6s.

Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced Force Touch at Apple’s “Spring Forward” media event last month as a feature of the upcoming 12-inch MacBook with Retina. In that case, it augumented the typically mouse-like behavior of the MacBook’s trackpad with a “depth” component that allows you to interact in different ways depending on how hard you press or swipe on the trackpad. Given that the iPhone is touch-based, the tech seems like it’d be a natural inclusion.

Rumors going as far back as January from TechNews Taiwan claimed that both of this year’s iterations of the iPhone would support the tech along with 2GB of RAM, with The Wall Street Journal chiming in to bolster the claim with additional alleged insider information. As MacRumors notes, the claim of the iPhone 6s Plus’s exclusivity for Force Touch isn’t without precedent, as Apple brought image stabilization to only the larger of its two phones last year.

Apple Highlights Apps for World Autism Awareness Day

Today is World Autism Awareness Day, and in the spirit of the day, Apple has created a new section for its App Store that’s designed to give something to all autistic individuals. The new section, which is found under the “Education” heading, includes 16 apps that vary in price from free (or, you know, “Get“) to 9.

Some are for all ages, such as the Keeble accessible keyboard, which lets “users with fine motor-challenges, switch users, and users with vision impairments type in any app.” Many of the rest are aimed at kids, such as the free FlummoxVision, which features “live-action comedy that works to help kids navigate the social and emotional world.”

In addition to the sampling of apps, 9to5Mac notes, Apple also has a extensive selection of podcasts by nonprofit Autism Empowerment available for listening.

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


Apple Daily: iTunes, iCloud Outage; Fake Apple Watches; ResearchKit’s Success

If you had a hard time getting onto iTunes or accessing iCloud services today, you certainly weren’t the only one. Apple’s services were hit by a massive outage, and many of them were out for several hours. In other news, knockoff Apple Watches are already rolling off the lines in China, and thousands of iPhone users are already signing up for studies designed with Apple’s new ResearchKit.

iCloud and iTunes Affected By Major Outage for Hours; Apple Apologizes

Apple this morning suffered a serious outage for several hours in which virtually all of its online services were down, including iTunes, iBooks, and the app stores for both iOS and Mac. Even iCloud was affected for much of the morning, and CNBC reports that employees in Apple’s retail stores were forced to resort to old-style paper credit card processing as the outage affected the system there as well. Most of the problems appear to be over, but only a few minutes before the time of writing, Apple was still reporting errors on its system status page.

Apple released a statement to CNBC claiming that an “internal DNS error” was to blame for this morning’s troubles, which reportedly affected users in the U.S., the U.K., Switzerland, and Spain. The problem seemed to grow steadily worse as the day wore on, with Apple continually adding more affected services to its status page. In its statement, Apple apologized while the services were still affected.

“We apologize to our customers experiencing problems with iTunes and other services this morning,” Apple told CNBC. “The cause was an internal DNS error at Apple. We’re working to make all of the services available to customers as soon as possible, and we thank everyone for their patience.”


Apple Watch Knockoffs Already Rampant in China

The Apple Watch may not officially debut until April 24, but that isn’t stopping manufacturers in China from getting imitation devices onto the wrists of customers early. As the South China Morning Posts reports (via MacRumors), Chinese customers can already pick up convincing imitators in Shenzhen’s Huaqiangbei commercial district, and a few of the devices even claim to be the real thing.

Some, in fact, offer features that Apple’s doesn’t. Take the “Zeaplus Watch,” which looks like a dead ringer for the regular Apple Watch but works with both iOS and Android. And get this — it has a slot for a SIM card, meaning that you can talk directly into the watch without having to tether your iPhone to it. Also reportedly included is a 2-megapixel camera which can be detached from the watch to take a photo. It’s currently not known how much the device will cost when it comes out later this month, but a similar watch on the manufacturer’s site reportedly sells for a mere .

Cult of Mac also has a good gallery compiling images of several other knockoffs, demonstrating that the fairly impressive Zeaplus Watch is but one device among many.


Thousands Already Signing Up for ResearchKit Studies

One of the big announcements from Monday’s event that had nothing to do with the Apple Watch was the introduction of ResearchKit, which is aimed at improving medical studies by making them easily accessible to the millions of iOS users throughout the world. Provided the users have given the associated apps permission to track their vitals, the service tracks data such as blood pressure, weight, and inhaler use for use as data in studies.

And it’s a hit. According to a report from Bloomberg this morning, thousands of people are already signing up for it. By Tuesday morning, a single day after Apple’s “Spring Forward” event, as many as 11,000 people had signed up for MyHeart Counts, an app designed using ResearchKit by professionals at Stanford University.

“To get 10,000 people enrolled in a medical study normally, it would take a year and 50 medical centers around the country,” said Alan Yeung, medical director of Stanford Cardiovascular Health, in a statement to Bloomberg. “That’s the power of the phone.”

Even so, not everyone in the medical research field is excited about such widespread involvement. One such person is Lisa Schwartz, a professor at the Darthmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, who claims that the differences in demographics between Android and iOS users could skew the results. In addition, she worries that complications could arise when an iPhone user accidentally hits a wrong button or loans the phone to a friend.

“Just collecting lots of information about people — who may or may not have a particular disease, and may or may not represent the typical patient — could just add noise and distraction,” Schwartz told Bloomberg an e-mail. “Bias times a million is still bias.”

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


Apple Daily: Apple at the Oscars; Samsung Battery Experts; Editorial Content on iTunes

If the rumors are true, Apple’s trying to grab the best battery engineers it can find for its rumored electric car project — and it’s apparently even enticing engineers over from Samsung. In other news, a new iPad ad made waves at the Oscars, Apple seems to be readying some editorial content for iTunes, and it’s also building two massive data centers in Europe.

Apple’s iPad Ad Shines During Academy Awards

Congratulations to Birdman, Eddie Redmayne, and Julianne Moore for their Oscar victories yesterday, but for Apple fans, the highlight of the show might be the iPad ad that aired during the broadcast. Narrated by Martin Scorsese, the ad showed how the tablet can be an invaluable tool for aspiring filmmakers, and embodies the aspirational spirit that has become synonymous with the Apple brand. In case you missed it, you can see the ad in its entirity below, or you can stop by Apple’s “Make a Film with iPad” site, which also goes into detail about using apps like Final Draft Writer and GarageBand to become a fledgling filmmaker.

Apple Reportedly Poaching Battery Engineers from Samsung

Last week we reported that battery maker A123 is bringing a lawsuit against Apple on the grounds that the Cupertino company is allegedly poaching engineers (possibly in connection with its rumored electric car project), and now The Korea Times claims that Apple’s also stealing battery engineers from chief rival Samsung. Specifically, the company is looking for engineers with experience in signal- and visual-processing management.

The anonymous officials claim that Apple lures them over with “highly competitive benefits and large annual paychecks,” which we’ve also heard from Elon Musk regarding Apple’s attempt to win over engineers from Tesla. And regardless of whatever bad blood exists between the two companies, the officials claims that “Apple prefers to use Samsung’s chip experts because they are very diligent, mission-oriented and are prepared to acquire new knowledge.”

Apple Seemingly Planning to Bring Editorial-Driven Entertainment Content to iTunes

Something big’s about to happen with the music side of Apple, and it’s not just the rumored upcoming rebranding of Beats Music into something a little more iTunesy. As TechCrunch notes, Apple’s currently on the lookout for an editorial producer with “specific expertise in music journalism:” and who has a “broad pop culture background. Apple’s especially interested in looking for editorial candidates who’ve already built up numerous connections from a “sea of freelancers” and write up some “lively copy” of his or her own.

The signs suggest that Apple wants to introduce some kind of digital entertainment “magazine” to complement its iTunes offerings, but as TechCrunch points out, it’s hard to see how this will work seeing as how Apple is both the retail outlet and the reviewer. But it’s possible Apple already has some other associated staff members in place. Just a couple of weeks ago, DJ Zane Lower of BBC Radio 1 announced that he was leaving the British network for Apple, although the nature of his job isn’t known aside from having a “global” scope.

Apple Commits to Two Massive Data Centers in Europe

Today Apple announced that it’s about to vastly expand its operations in Europe, thanks to a massive injection of cash amounting to .93 billion that’ll go toward building two huge new data centers in County Galway in Ireland and Central Jutland in Denmark. The facilities will chiefly be used to provide a local European host for Apple’s online services, such as iTunes, the App Store, iMessage, Apple Maps and Siri.

“This significant new investment represents Apple’s biggest project in Europe to date,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook in a statement. Cook also played up the “advanced green buildings designs” to be used for the project, which Cook claims will operate with 100 percent clean and renewable energy sources such as wind power. The project apparently marks an improvement over Apple’s existing green projects, as Cook claims the buildings will have the lowest environmental impact of Apple’s data centers yet.

Both data centers are expected to measure 166,000 square feet and to go into business sometime in 2017.

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


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