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Apple Daily: New Chicago Flagship Store; Apple Joins NFC Forum; Mystery Nano Patch

Based on new reports, Apple seems poised to brings its underground store design familiar from its Fifth Avenue location in New York to a new flagship store in Chicago. In addition, Apple now holds a position on the board of directors for the NFC Forum, and a mystery update came out for the 2012 iPod nano.

Apple Planning to Build New Flagship Store in Chicago

Apple is reportedly planning to open a new flagship store on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, just a few blocks down from its current highly trafficked but comparatively tiny Michigan Avenue location. As with the Cupertino company’s iconic Fifth Avenue location, the bulk of the new space will reportedly be underground, and it’s thought that a large glass structure will grace the site above ground.

The site is at 401. N. Michigan Avenue, mere feet from the famous Michigan Avenue Bridge. Yet the site is also the location of Pioneer Court Plaza, one of the few open plazas in downtown Chicago, and a frequent host to art fairs, large sculpture exhibitions, and attractions of a similar nature. It’s thought that the glass structure wouldn’t occupy a lot of space, but it would certainly become the relatively small plaza’s dominant feature.

Above: Pioneer Court Plaza in 2011. Photo: Phil Roeder

Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile is already a highly regarded shopping destination, but according to Crain’s Chicago Business, many local businessmen believe that an Apple Store at the location would help create constant foot traffic from the heart of the Mag Mile around half a mile away (where Apple’s current store stands) to the city’s popular Millennium Park.

“We think it’s a very important milestone and a transformational event in terms of validating Michigan Avenue, all the way to Millennium Park and beyond, as a solid retail destination,” said John Rutledge, a Chicago-based hotel developer, to Crain’s “It will be a validator for a lot of other retailers.”

 

Apple Joins Board of Directors of the NFC Forum

With the introduction of Apple Pay, Apple became a major figure in the field of Near Field Communication (NFC) chips almost overnight. Now, it seems, the Cupertino company is poised to do something with that power. Apple is now a top-tier sponsor for the official NFC Forum, and it also occupies a chair on the group’s board of directors. According to the organization’s site, Aon Mujtaba, one of the directors for Apple’s wireless systems engineering team and the man behind many of Apple’s wireless patents, will be repping the company.

Photo: Jason Howle

For its part, the forum seems happy to have Apple on board. NFC Forum director Paula Hunter said in a statement that the forum is “delighted” to welcome Apple. The forum itself was formed “to advance the use of Near Field Communication technology by developing specifications, ensuring interoperability among devices and services, and educating the market about NFC technology.”

It’s thought that the Cupertino company’s position on the board will allow it to affect the development of NFC technology more directly. Joining such organizations is somewhat usual for Apple (as 9to5Mac notes), as the company already involves itself in organizations covering the development of USB and Bluetooth technology — and, indeed, it played a major role in the development of Thunderbolt and the new USB C port. At the same time, it’s a little late to the NFC party, as Google, Sony, Intel, and Nokia all already have positions on the board.

 

Apple Releases Mystery Patch for 7th Generation iPod Nano

There’s a new update out for the 7th-generation iPod nano, which is a little strange in itself, but even stranger, no one is really sure what it does. Apple itself doesn’t provide any clues. The update is listed as v. 1.0.4, and unlike iOS releases, you can only install the update by logging into iTunes and downloading and installing it from there.

The update has raised a few eyebrows, mainly because the last firmware update for the nano line was rolled out way back in 2011. In addition, although the iPod nano’s interface shares some similarities with iOS 6, it’s actually an operating system all of its own.

The 7th-generation iPod nano was released in 2012. Apple made a surprise update to its increasingly neglected iPod line this year that included three new color options (gold, blue, and hot pink) for the nano, but other than that, nothing has changed as regards the device’s internals.

If you can figure out what the update does, feel free to download it and let us know in the comments! Most likely, it merely fixes tiny bugs that have gone unfixed for all this time.

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

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Apple Daily: Better SSD Support in El Capitan; Photos of New York Apple Store; Google Improving Mac Chrome

Once OS X El Capitan releases, you might be able to get more mileage out of solid-state drives by using a special tool. Also, Google is finally getting around to improving Chrome’s performance on Mac in what seems to be a desire to compete with Safari, and photos emerge from a beautiful new Apple Store location on New York’s Upper East Side.

OS X El Capitan May Have At-Your-Own-Risk TRIM Support for SSDs

By the time Mac OS X Yosemite 10.10.4 or OS X El Capitan 10.11 rolls around, you might be able to use TRIM, a method of clearing up unused space on solid state drives, with third party SSDs. By using it, you can keep the SSDs running quickly and ensure that you get the most of out the tech, but Apple emphatically states that you’ll only be able to use it at your own risk.

Forum users over at MacRumors discovered clues about Apple’s future plans while tinkering with the new Rootless security system in El Capitan, where they found a new tool called “Trimforce” that forces SSDs to accept TRIM. But Apple isn’t taking any chances dealing with any resulting data loss, as seen in the warning that comes with Trimforce: “By using this tool to enable TRIM, you agree that Apple is not liable for any consequences that may result, including but not limited to data loss or corruption.”

It’s currently not clear when exactly the tool will appear in a full release, as one reader claims that the tool can already be found in the beta for OS X Yosemite 10.10.4.

Google Seeking to Improve Chrome’s Performance on Mac

Apple’s Safari browser works great on Mac and iOS devices — so great, in fact, that Google is finally ramping up its efforts to improve its Chrome browser’s performance on Mac in a seeming attempt to win some share from Safari. Google senior software engineer Peter Kasting announced this week that he and his team were specifically attempting to keep the browser from being a “battery hog” (via MacRumors).

Multiple changes are being made in order to ensure the browser runs better and drains less battery. Kasting noted that the browser won’t use as much CPU while producing search results, and he also outlined some other seemingly small changes that might have a big impact on performance. For instance, Kasting notes that “Renderers for background tabs had the same priority as for foreground tabs,” but now “Renderers for background tabs get a lower priority, reducing idle wakeups on various perf test, in some cases by significant amounts (e.g. 50% on one test).”

Apple’s Latest NYC Store Draws on Elements of 1920s Bank

Tomorrow Apple will open its sixth location in New York City on the Upper East Side, and you’ll be able to find it at 940 Madison Avenue. Apple Stores open all the time, but what makes this case special is that the 1920s building used to be a bank, and Apple has done much to retain the feel of the original architecture, right down to keeping the door for the old vault. TechCrunch stopped by ahead of the opening and created a lovely gallery showing what to expect.

It’s quite beautiful. The building itself has been restored to its original appearance, and the only evidence that the new building is an Apple Store is a minimalist white-on-black Apple flag hanging from a pole. High ceilings with chandeliers adorn the interior, and the walls feature large, black-and-white photos of the neighborhood taken with an iPhone 6. And as for the vault? In keeping with the luxury image the Cupertino company wants to associate with the Apple Watch, it’s been remodeled as an Apple Watch try-on area.

The site features other luxury elements as well, such as wooden display walls for Beats headphones and cases for iPhone and iPads. The latter actually pull out from the wall, so as to recall the safety deposit boxes the bank once maintained. All in all, it’s a fine example of what Apple can achieve when it chooses to work with existing architecture instead of building news stores that look like all of its other ones.

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

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WWDC 2015: App Store Downloads Exceed 100B, $30B Paid to Developers

WWDC 2015 App Store

After revealing what OS X El Capitan and iOS 9 will bring to the table, Apple CEO Tim Cook refocused on Cupertino’s relationship with developers, announcing the App Store has now racked up more than 100 billion downloads.

Cook also revealed Apple has paid out more than billion to developers prior to launching into a video featuring Senior Vice-President Phil Schiller, astrophysicist Neil deGrass Tyson, and others touting the accomplishments of the App Store.

Hard as it may seem to believe, a whopping 98 percent of all Fortune 500 companies now have a native iOS app, and the App Store features 195,000 educational titles. Perhaps even more impressively, the video quickly noted that 850 apps are downloaded each and every second.

“It is an amazing time to be a developer,” Schiller said, noting that the technology is still in its infancy and that there was so much yet to come.

Following the video, Cook came back on stage to again thank third-party App Store developers prior to the introduction of watchOS, which will bring native app functionality to Apple Watch.

Stay tuned for more details from the WWDC 2015 keynote!

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

 

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Apple Daily: Taptic Engine Issues; iPad App Glitch Grounds Flights; Apple Store Watch App

In today’s Apple Daily, we learn that Apple is behind schedule on Apple Watch shipments because of production problems centered on a key feature of the device. In other news, a third-party app glitch keeps dozens of American Airlines flights grounded after it shows up on pilots’ iPads, and insider sources claim that an Apple Store app could be coming to the Apple Watch sometime this sunny summer.

Faulty Taptic Engines Hampering Apple Watch Production

At last, we have some idea why the Apple Watch is behind on production, to the point that many of pre-orders still haven’t made their way to customers. According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, the initial rollout has been hampered by issues with the Taptic Engines supplied for the device by AAC Technologies Holdings of Shenzhen, China. In essence, as Apple discovered as early as February, AAC’s units would wear down quickly after use.

The Taptic Engine is a key feature of the Apple Watch, as it simulates the sensation of someone tapping on your wrist — thus the name — through the help of a small rod when a notification comes in.

Source: iFixit

But the catch is that the Taptic Engines built by Japan’s Nidec Corp do work, and Apple has apparently shifted almost all production of the engine over to Nidec. Unfortunately, it may take some time before production gets up to Apple’s needs owing to Nidec’s having to adjust to the increased demand from its lines.

Apple apparently hasn’t told any of its other suppliers about the specifics of all this, which seems to have caused some confusion on their ends after Apple first them that inventory for the Apple Watch was insufficient and then later told them to slow production until sometime in June.

 

iPad App Glitch Grounds American Airlines Flights

One of the biggest bits of Apple news from the world of aviation over the last couple of years is the shift from using paper navigation charts in the cockpit to using iPads for the same purpose. American Airlines has been using Apple’s signature tablet for that very purpose since 2011, but a problem with the third-party app used for the charts caused “dozens” of American Airline flights to stay grounded over the last couple of days. Fortunately, the trouble now appears to be over.

Specifically, as reported by CNN, the glitch caused delays for 24 flights on Tuesday and 50 more today. That sounds like a lot, but considering that American Airlines reportedly sends off around 6,700 flights on a daily basis, it’s not anywhere near as bad as it could have been.

“Some flights are experiencing an issue with a software application on pilot iPads,” American Airlines said in a statement from earlier today. “In some cases, the flight has had to return to the gate to access a WiFi connection to fix the issue.” In addition, pilots were also told that they could pick up physical copies of the maps at the airports.

American Airlines also made sure to point out that the third-party application was to blame, not the iPad itself, but that hasn’t stopped a wave of negative reactions directed at the iPad from angry customers on social media outlets such as Twitter.

The airline claims that their reliance on iPad-focused digital charts saves American Airlines at least 400,000 gallons of fuel every year, presumably because of the comparative precision involved. In addition, the 8,000 iPads used by American Airlines reportedly replaced the 24 million pages used for the original charts.

 

Apple Store App Said to Come to Apple Watch This Summer

If you’re looking to have more Apple in your Apple, insider rumors suggest that you may be able to access the Apple Store directly from your Apple Watch later this year without having to switch over to your iPhone.

As reported by 9to5Mac, the feature apparently won’t support more “complicated” purchases that would work best with your keyboard, but you will be able to order an assortment of products straight from your wrist. The feature should be available sometime this sunny summer, at which time Apple Store employees will reportedly be pressed to play up the convenience of using the app in the presentations.

While you’re waiting on Apple’s official Apple Store app, though, be sure to check out our list of the 20 best Apple Watch apps so far.

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

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Apple Daily: Apple Watch App Store, User Guides Go Live; iPod Refresh This Fall?

Raise your hand if you’re excited about Apple Watch! Okay, the couple of you in the back who didn’t raise your hands, stick around, because this edition of Apple Daily has some non-Watch news as well. But if you’re not excited, you probably should be, because new Apple product-category launches don’t happen too often! Let’s dispense with the tomfoolery and jump right in.

Apple Watch User Guide, App Store Now Available

Prospective Apple Watch buyers have had months to pore over every excruciating bit of minutiae about the smartwatch, but should there remain any nagging questions about the device on the eve of preorders arriving in the hands of customers Friday, there’s now a user guide with all the answers.

Apple Watch User Guide

On Thursday, Apple published the official Apple Watch User Guide on its website, which breaks down into 22 categories covering every aspect of the wearable device one might expect. With sections entitled Get Started, Basics, Watch Faces, Notifications, Glances, Timekeeping, Messages, Digital Touch, Mail, Phone Calls, and Calendars and Reminders, among others, the manual should give anxious watch buyers plenty to study in the hours that remain before the devices are delivered tomorrow.

Apple has also hung the open sign outside the Apple Watch App Store, a specialized version of the existing iOS App Store focused on Watch-compatible titles that actually lives inside the Apple Watch app introduced with iOS 8.2. As previewed by Buzzfeed earlier today, the store’s virtual shelves are stocked with more than 3,000 apps, including all the usual suspects like Twitter, Instapaper, and The New York Times being singled out for special attention.

Apple Watch App Store

Apple Watch owners will also be able to use the existing App Store on their iPhone or from a Mac or Windows PC, with compatible product listings now showing watch screenshots below the usual iPhone screenshots, and a special “Offers Apple Watch App for iPhone” indicator under the title, making it easier for apps that feature support for the device to stand out from those that do not.

Initial Apple Watch preorders are expected to begin arriving on Friday, but apparently the device will not actually be available to purchase for customers walking into an Apple retail store — a departure from the usual long lines and circus atmosphere that has greeted every new iPhone and iPad released since 2007.

Report: iPod Could Live to Fight Another Day

AppleInsider today reported that Apple hasn’t quite forgotten about the iPod, the media player that helped pave the way for Cupertino to become more than just a computer manufacturer. According to an unidentified source, the product line will apparently see at least one more refresh later this year, with an emphasis on the iPod touch in particular, which may or may not retain the current four-inch form factor.

iPod touch

The iPod lineup has remained the same since late 2012, but the report specifically cites the processor, storage capacity, and camera as specific areas Apple may address in an effort to boost interest in its once-mighty media player.

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

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