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Apple Daily: Latest on Apple Watch and MacBook at Retail; Maps Update Coming?

With all eyes on Friday’s launch of the Apple Watch, it’s not surprising that much of this edition of the Apple Daily is focused squarely on Cupertino’s first wearable. We’ve got updates on new product availability, developers being offered a chance to buy a Watch this week, and potentially good news for Maps fans looking forward to the return of public transit directions.

Retail Boss Updates Employees on Watch, MacBook Launches

French website Mac4Ever (via Google Translate) today shared a video intended for Apple employees around the world in which senior vice president of retail and online stores Angela Ahrendts updates her staff on what’s going on with product launches for the Apple Watch and the slim new MacBook, both of which have frustrated early adopters with limited availability.

Angela Ahrendts video

In a nearly five-minute video shot near Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, Ahrendts praises retail staffers for the way they’ve handled in-store Apple Watch demos, which require prospective customers to order online and potentially wait weeks or months to actually receive one.

“It was not an easy decision, and I think it’s really important to remind every single customer that this is not just a new product for us, this is an entirely new category. And the first time we’ve ever previewed a product two weeks before availability,” Ahrendts explained. “The great news is from anyone who did preorder, they’ll start getting their orders this Friday.”

Ahrendts promises to provide retail employees with weekly reports on supply constraints, pledging a return to the days of huge crowds outside Apple Stores for future product launches. The executive also confirmed “overwhelming” response for the new MacBook, with many retail outlets still missing demo units, let alone actual inventory to sell.

Select Developers Offered Watch Sport with Expedited Delivery

Although iOS developers have been working on WatchKit updates for weeks now, few have been able to properly test those apps on an actual Apple Watch. On Tuesday, some were offered the incentive to do so, courtesy of a “special opportunity” emailed to select developers offering the chance to purchase one (and only one) Apple Watch Sport with 42mm Silver Aluminum Case and Blue Sport Band with guaranteed shipping by April 28.

Apple Watch Sport developer email

According to a screenshot of the email obtained by MacRumors from Twitter user Kevin Chen, quantities are limited and developers must register before 10AM PST Thursday to take advantage of the offer. The real question is, where are they getting these extra Apple Watches when preorders have been sold out since minutes after they kicked off on April 10…?

Apple Job Opening Confirms Public Transit Plans for Maps App

AppleInsider today reported that public transit directions appear to be on their way back to iOS and OS X after a nearly three-year absence. The confirmation comes by way of an official job posting in search of a software engineer for the built-in Maps app with the Routing division, and more specifically requests “in-depth knowledge about public transit, both as a consumer of those services and the technical aspects.” With WWDC 2015 fast approaching, it’s entirely possible Apple could announce the return of public transit directions with the forthcoming iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 updates expected later this year.

Apple Maps public transit directions

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

(Images courtesy of Mac4Ever and Kevin Chen)

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Apple Daily: Retina MacBook Unboxing Video; Apple Wants TV Providers to Pay Hosting Costs

In today’s Apple Daily, a Vietnamese site ensures that we get a look at the thin new MacBook with Retina display more than a week ahead of the device’s launch. In other news, Apple reportedly wants channel providers to shoulder the costs and responsibilities of hosting streams for its upcoming online TV service.

Unboxing Video Shows New Retina MacBook Ahead of Release

Just a little over a week ahead of April 10, the date the new 12-inch MacBook with Retina display is supposed to hit shelves, Tinhte.vn of Vietnam has an unboxing video that shows the device outside of Apple’s carefully controlled presentation environments. The only catch is that the video is entirely in Vietnamese, but that shouldn’t be a problem so long as you’re only interested in getting a better look at the device from all angles.

And on that front, it delivers well. The video lasts for a full seven minutes, and it shows everything from the details or the device itself to the design of the adapter and the very box the whole setup comes in. Even better, if you can’t access the video from where you are, the site includes a selection of photos as well.

 

Apple Wants Networks to Bear Streaming Costs for Online TV Service

Apple’s upcoming online TV service is a massive undertaking, and it’s thus not surprising that Apple seems eager to keep some of the responsibility in the hands of others. A new report from Re/code claims that Apple wants the channel providers themselves to bear the burden of hosting the streams for their respective channels, in addition to paying most of the related costs.

The report claims that Apple executive Eddy Cue, who’s reportedly overseeing the project, believes Apple itself should focus on hardware and software — areas, in other words, the company knows well. In a similar fashion, the proposed setup would leave the responsibility of maintaining the streams in the hands of companies who (hopefully) know that area of the business better. It’s actually not that different from the structure that exists now in fragmented form on Apple TV and on iOS, in which companies like Netflix and HBO provide and stream the content while Apple merely hosts the apps.

The one main concern seems to be that such a setup would leave viewers with an unpredictable experience, as some channels would likely perform better than others at different times. But there’s apparently a strategic angle to the deal as well: if the networks host the streams themselves, Internet providers like Comcast won’t be as likely to “penalize the service.”

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

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Apple Daily: 2015 MacBook Air and 4K Monitors, CNNGo on Apple TV

Apple may want us to believe that the upcoming MacBook Air won’t be able to handle external 4K monitors, but it seems it’s actually selling itself short. Oh, Apple — don’t be so humble! In other news, there’s already another channel available for Apple TV, and gold Apple Watch buyers can expect 30-minute appointments come April 10.

Despite Apple’s Contrary Claims, the new MacBook Air Can Handle 4K Monitors

Apple isn’t being entirely honest about the capabilities of the newly updated 2015 MacBook Air. If the laptop’s specs page is to be believed, the device can only support an external monitor with a maximum display of 2560×1600.

But that’s just not true, according to a new report from Ars Technica. Not only did the site discover that the 2015 MacBook Air is capable of supporting external 4K resolution displays, but it can also run them with a 60Hz refresh rate.

In their words, “The Mac detected the display, noticed that it was 4K, and without any extra cajoling began displaying in HiDPI mode. You get the same usable screen space as a standard 1080p display, just with sharper images and text. The BlurBusters refresh rate test verified that we were looking at 60Hz output.”

So why the shortselling? According to Ars Technica, it’s because you can’t run the 4K display and the MacBook Air’s native display at the same time. If you try it, performance is always going to take a hit, even that hit apparently “isn’t too bad.”

 

Apple Adds CNNGo to Apple TV

Just yesterday we reported that the channels TED, Tastemade, and Young Hollywood are now available for the Apple TV, and now Apple has added CNN Go to the device’s growing lineup.

As you might expect, CNNGo focuses on news, particularly for viewers who want access to live coverage and the ability to view segments from the previous 24 hours on demand. It’s not the service’s first appearance on Apple’s devices, though, as a version of the service has been available for the iPad for some time.

And now for the bad news. As with so many other channels on the Apple TV, you’ll need to enter authentication information from your cable provider in order to access the majority of the content. Fortunately, you’ll see be able to watch a few segments without a subscription.

 

Gold Apple Watch Potential Buyers to Get 30-Minute Appointments

So let’s say that, wealthy person that you are, you’re almost ready to slap down more than ,000 for a gold Apple Watch Edition, and you’re ready to get an appointment to handle one on April 10. How far does that kind of commitment go with Apple? According to the International Business Times, who spoke with employees at two Apple Stores in Manhattan, that kind of cash will get you a 30-minute appointment with an Apple employee beginning April 10 instead of the usual 15.

But there may be more to it than that. Previous information claimed that customers looking to buy a gold Apple Watch would work with veteran employees who’d undertaken specialized training. So while that extra 15 minutes may seem like a small gesture, the truth is that the presentation experience may be vastly different for Edition buyers, particularly if Apple really is taking cues from art and fashion companies.

In-store previews and preorders for the Apple Watch begin on April 10, but the device itself won’t be available until April 24.

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

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Spring Forward Event: Apple Reinvents Notebook with New 12-inch MacBook

12-inch MacBook keyboard

Apple CEO Tim Cook warmed the hearts and minds of many portable computer lovers by debuting a super-thin new MacBook during the Spring Forward event in San Francisco on Monday.

“Can you even see it? I can’t even feel it!” Cook exclaimed as he carried the reinvented MacBook onto the stage before handing the proceedings over to Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Philip W. Schiller.

Featuring a svelte new look that weighs in at only two pounds, with a frame only 13.1mm thin — a whopping 24 percent thinner than the current generation MacBook Air.

Apple has also reworked the keyboard to match the thinner frame, with more precise, more accurate keys. The all-new, full-sized keyboard also includes an LED backlight for each key.

Moving onto the display, the 12-inch MacBook features a Retina Display with a resolution of 2304 x 1440 pixels that consumes 30 percent less energy. The panel itself is an insanely thin 0.88mm thin, which Schiller described as the thinnest display ever used on a Mac.

The trackpad has also been upgraded for the latest MacBook, with a new “force touch” feature that enables new, more accurate gestures. For example, pressing harder on an email address in the Mail application can pull up that location, or getting a preview of files while in the Finder.

The interior of the new MacBook is no less impressive: Schiller noted that this is the first fanless model ever made by Apple, with a logic board 67 percent smaller than previous models. Powered by an Intel Core M processor, the notebook consumes a mere five watts of energy.

Thanks to an additional 35 percent battery capacity, the MacBook is capable of iPad-style, all-day life, which Schiller claims equates to nine hours of wireless web browsing and 10 hours of iTunes movie playback.

The 12-inch MacBook also includes 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connectivity, and exactly as rumored, a single USB-C port capable of USB, DisplayPort, AC power, HDMI, or VGA connections. The cable is only a third of the size of regular USB cables, and like Apple’s own Lightning cable, is also reversible as well.

Available in Silver, Space Grey, and Gold, the 12-inch MacBook will be available April 10, with a starting price of 99 for 8GB RAM and 256GB SDD storage.

The new MacBook joins the existing MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lineup rather than replacing one of them. The current lineup will also be upgraded with fifth-generation Intel Core processors and Thunderbolt 2, and those upgrades will be available starting today.

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

 

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Apple Daily: Apple Auto Hires; Parisian Apple Watch Display; 2011 MacBook Replacements

In today’s Apple Daily, a new report reveals the names of many former automotive engineers who now work at Apple, all while battery maker A123 files a lawsuit against the Cupertino company in protest of its alleged poaching. In other news, a huge stand is apparently being built to promote the Apple Watch in a mall along the Champs-Élysées in Paris, and Apple has finally launched a repair program to service 2011-2013 MacBook Pros with faulty video performance.

Apple Reportedly Pulling from Tesla, GM, Ford, A123, Etc. For Automotive Project

Former GM CEO Daniel Akerson said yesterday that Apple doesn’t know what it’s getting into if it intends to enter the car business, but the Cupertino company is actively involved in hiring (or, ahem, poaching) people who do know. According to a new report from 9to5Mac, these engineers are coming from big firms like Tesla, Ford, and GM, and smaller companies like A123 Systems, General Dynamics, MIT Motorsports, Ogin, Autoliv, and Concept Systems.

And these aren’t random nobodies. Consider David Nelson and John Ireland, both of whom once held high-ranking positions at Tesla. Lauren Ciminera, the person once responsible for bringing quality engineering talent to Tesla, now performs the same job for Apple.

As you might expect, the affected companies aren’t exactly happy about this. Battery maker A123 Systems has gone so far as to sue Apple, claiming the iPhone maker has pulled so many engineers away that it’s had to shut the door on several projects (via Reuters). The lawsuit alleges that whatever battery division Apple is cobbling together for its top-secret project “is similar if not identical to A123’s,” and that the Cupertino company is actively involved in poaching battery engineers from Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Toshiba, and others. All told, 11 former A123 employees now call Apple home, judging from their LinkedIn profiles. In addition to its suit against Apple, A123 is suing five former employees individually.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that Apple has other things in mind for the engineers. A123 also isn’t in the best of situations right now; it’s still selling off assets in accordance with the terms of its 2012 bankruptcy.

Apple Reportedly Building Massive Apple Watch Stand in High-End Parisian Mall

Apple is reportedly in the process of building a massive stand at the lovely Galeries Lafayette in Paris for the purpose of showing off the upcoming Apple Watch, according to multiple sources in the French press (via MacRumors). France’s Mac4Ever and FashionMag.com have some photos of the installation under construction. Apple Retail Senior Vice President Angela Ahrendts has reportedly been to the site in person to oversee the construction of the project, which took the place of a small food court and some small jewelry shops.

Tarps reportedly covering Apple display, via FashionMag.com

In related news, 9to5Mac claims that inside sources at Apple say the company is considering creating stand-alone retail stores that sell nothing but Apple Watch. It’s possible, however, that these may never appear at all, or that the most we’ll see are the specialized Mac areas familiar to Best Buy and similar retailers. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said the device itself will hit stores sometime in April.

 

Apple Introduces Replacement Program for 2011-2013 MacBook Pros with Faulty Video

After years of complaints and massive petitions, Apple is finally instating a replacement program to help customers who own one of the 2011-2013 MacBook Pros that are notoriously plagued with video performance issues. The replacement program covers the 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros released in 2011, in addition to the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros manufactured in 2012 and early 2013. If you’re curious about whether your device qualifies under warranty, you can plug in your serial number at Apple’s site.

Source: MacRumors

The replacement program will go active tomorrow and continue through February 27, 2016, or three years from the original purchase date. The program appears to be the result of a class action lawsuit that was initiated by the Whitfield, Bryson, and Mason firm, which used social media last August to build evidence before filing a suit against Apple two months later.

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

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