May General Meeting

Read the minutes of the May General Meeting. Many thanks to MacsWest Secretary Judy Von Sickle for recording and preparing them.

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This Week @ MacsWest
Teaching, Helping, Learning and Having Fun! 

• Monday, August 31, 2015 
    Nothing Schedule

• Tuesday, September 1 2015
    11:30 AM – MacsWest Board Meeting, Room C, Chair John Huotari presiding, until 12:30 PM (or longer if necessary) 

    1:00 PM – iOS Casual Tuesday, hosted by Bill Turvin (filling in  for Wally, who is still somewhere in Europe), Palo Verde Room, until 2:00 PM (These summer Tuesday sessions deal with anything and everything iOS—iPhones and iPads and, if Bruce is running the show, iPod Touches as well)

• Wednesday, September 2, 2015 
    10:00 AM – Senior Genius Bar: hosted by various members of the MW Club, Room C, every Wednesday (Yes, even over the summer!), until 11:30 AM. These are one-on-one help sessions regarding ANYTHING Apple. For  MW Members ONLY! No fee. Walk-ins are encouraged. Senior Genius Bar will continue every Wednesday through the summer and into the fall.

• Thursday, September 3, 2015
    Nothing Schedule

• Friday, September 4, 2015
    NO MEETING — LABOR DAY HOLIDAY

• Saturday, September 5, 2015 
    Nothing Schedule

Apple schedules new product event for Sept. 9

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple has announced plans for a new product event on Sept. 9 in San Francisco, where the giant tech company is expected to show off new iPhones and other gadgets.

 

The company has introduced a new iPhone model every year around this time. But in typical fashion, Apple is only dropping vague clues about its plans.

Invitations sent to reporters and analysts on Thursday were headlined, "Hey Siri, give us a hint." Apple has previously said it plans to expand the capabilities of Siri, its voice-activated personal assistant, in an upcoming version of its operating software for iPhones and iPads.

Industry insiders have also speculated Apple may introduce a larger iPad for business users, a new set-top box for televisions and possibly other products. The company, however, has not confirmed any plans.

While Apple usually holds such events on a regular schedule, they are still the subject of much anticipation in the tech industry, given that Apple products tend to be popular and influential.

Apple says the Sept. 9 event will be held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in downtown San Francisco. The auditorium seats up to 7,000 people, which is a much larger capacity than San Francisco's 750-seat Yerba Buena Theater, where Apple often holds such events.

As for Siri, the digital service had clearly been programmed to play it coy about the Sept. 9 event. When queried for a hint on a reporter's iPhone, the digital assistant only said to expect "a big announcement."

 

Throwback Thursday: 30 years ago this week ... Woz's brother disses the home computer

 

 

 

 

In the summer of 1985, the personal computer market was in a funk. Consumers had grown weary of the industry's exaggerated claims of simplicity and usefulness for what were actually underpowered and expensive machines. While useful for many people, they had a long way to go as a daily-use must-have device for most households.The Macintosh, for example, had been introduced one year earlier at a base price of $2,500, or $5,500 in 2015 dollars. It boasted a 9-inch, 512x342 pixel monochrome display and 128 of RAM.

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Apple Lisas at University of Michigan (1983)

Apple to Delay Live TV Service to 2016 Due to Stalled Negotiations and Lack of Network Capacity

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Apple, Inc. will be delaying its live TV service to 2016 due to several factors, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

Issues with the licensing of TV programming and the lack of computer network capacity are said to be the reasons for the delay.

The source, who doesn't want to be identified because talks are private, told Bloomberg that Apple's negotiations to license programming from TV networks owned by CBS Corp. and 21st Century Fox, Inc. is progressing slowly.

The issue with the price is seen as the main reason why talks are stalling.

People familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that Apple wants to offer a package of popular channels for just $40 a month.

The package price is way lower compared to the average monthly cable bill in the U.S.

Bloomberg adds that TV networks expect Internet-based services, like Apple's live TV service, to pay them a higher fee. This is because these services are just new to the market and are also asking to gain a share of the viewers.

CNET also adds that Apple is not being helped by the already competitive market being dominated by cable companies and satellite TV providers.

This competition is also a reason why content providers can hold out for better terms.

Unless Apple can convince these TV networks to give them a discounted price to show some of their programs, it's going to be hard to offer to consumers the $40 a month package that they want.

Bloomberg adds that aside from providing the content, Apple is also struggling with creating a computer network that can support a fast, glitch-free, viewing experience in the U.S.

Nick Del Deo, an analyst at Moffettnathanson LLC, told Bloomberg that though Apple has solutions, it would be expensive.

"Apple could send every bit from one central point, but the bandwidth costs would be exorbitant," he said. "Plus, the service would be terrible."

Apple is working with Akamai Technologies, Inc., a company that runs a "content distribution network," and another company that operates small "micro-data centers" to help solve its network capacity issues, according to Bloomberg.

CNET adds that Apple's live TV service is the company's next step in its entertainment strategy, which is a key component of Apple's overall goal.

Apple wants to create a stable of products and services that keep consumers from straying to competitors such as Google.

 

This Verizon move should make Apple worry

Verizon (VZ) just announced a major shakeup in its phone plans. Starting Aug. 13, new customers will have to provide their own smartphones or buy one under an installment plan.

People will get unlimited voice and text messaging and a choice of data plans, from $30 for 1 gigabyte per month to $80 for 12 gigabytes. There'll be a $20 a month fee to connect a single phone, $10 for a tablet or $5 for a device like a smartwatch. The plans run month-to-month without contracts, although preexisting contracts shouldn't be affected.

Verizon is following the lead T-Mobile (TMUS) set a couple of years ago, and it all adds up to bad news for Apple (AAPL), Samsung and other high-end handset makers.

Until recently, consumers signed up for two-year contract periods. They'd typically choose a new phone, with an Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy or similar device running about $199. But that was a subsidized price, with a carrier such as Verizon, AT&T (T), T-Mobile or Sprint (S) footing the rest of the up-front payment for the phones, which frequently top $600.

But just like free lunches, neither were the smartphones free. Built into the carrier's monthly fees was a portion allotted internally at the handset makers to pay off the phone. Consumers would eventually pay more for the phone than it would have cost to buy it outright at retail.

However, the full price was effectively invisible to the consumer. The presentation made the cost far more palatable to buyers and allowed Apple and others to more easily sell the expensive handheld computer-phone combinations and boost their sales.

As consumers increasingly realize what the full cost is, the dynamics change. Many will likely choose a high-end phone and pay it off over time, or even right away. But that still leaves more price-sensitive consumers to consider keeping their existing phone for a longer period or choose a cheaper model.

That's bad news for the manufacturers. Apple, for example, depends on the iPhone for its financial strength. In its most recently announced quarterly earnings, the iPhone represented 63 percent of total revenue, versus 53 percent only the year before.

Investors were already concerned about future iPhone sales. Even though Apple sold 35 percent more units last quarter than in the previous year at the same time, its stock price has dropped by more than 12 percent, or $90 billion in market value, since the earnings announcement last month.

Signs have been appearing over the last few years that carriers might be tiring of financing subsidies to the manufacturers. Now that Verizon, the country's largest cellular company, has made it official, the potential impact could be sharp. And if AT&T decides to match the strategy, hardware makers could find themselves in an increasingly difficult situation.

Apple is fixing that scary Mac OS X bug sooner than expected

Apple is working quickly to fix a vulnerability recently discovered in its Mac OS X that enables hackers to essentially take over computers.

The tech giant is expected to patch the bug, called DYLD, in its next security update, according to a report from The Guardian. This comes as a relief to users as there were some concerns the bug wouldn’t be fixed until the fall when Apple will release the next iteration of the OS called El Capitan.

Hackers are already exploiting the serious zero-day vulnerability, which enables cyber criminals to install malicious applications on a victim’s machine, according to researchers.

The security hole lies in Apple’s new error-logging feature found in Mac OS X 10.10. Basically, the vulnerability lets a hacker run a program on a computer without requiring the user to input their password.

While Apple is traditionally praised for having the most secure devices, it security problems appear to be mounting.

Researchers also recently discovered a vulnerability that enables hackers to breach the firmware of Apple Macs wirelessly. Researchers built a worm dubbed Thunderstrike 2 to show how computers could be infected. Apple, though, has already begun patching the issue.

 

IBM Launches New Service to Deploy Macs to Businesses Around the World

IBM today announced the launch of a new service that will allow large companies to easily incorporate Mac computers into their preexisting corporate infrastructure. The service, being deployed by IBM's MobileFirst Managed Mobility Services unit, will be aimed at companies around the world and not just based in the United States. 

Thanks to the MobileFirst partnership with Apple that has brought about multiple waves of enterprise-focused apps as the company has increased its own usage of Macs, IBM saw an opportunity to commercialize its expertise in "enterprise deployment" of Macs in the workplace.

“Ease of adoption and use are at the foundation of every Apple product, and as these devices are used more in the workplace, people expect the same experience they enjoy with Apple technology in their personal lives,” said Richard Patterson, general manager, Infrastructure Services, IBM Global Technology Services. “IBM’s new enterprise services ensure a great user experience for clients using Macs, providing world-class support from installation through the life of the product.”
The company promises that the new MobileFirst service will be completely headache-free for clients, with the Macs delivered directly to customers and ready to go out of the box with easy network access setup screens and security measures. It will also support the personal Macs of employees if they bring their own devices to work. The source of the quick-and-painless software setup is a partnership with JAMF Software and its Casper Suite, the "leading solution" for the quick deployment and setup of enterprise computers. 

Today's news comes after an internal video of IBM chief information officer Jeff Smith that leaked late last week, in which Smith told employees that the company could end up purchasing 150,000-200,000 Macs annually, significantly more than the original estimate of 50,000 Macs deployed through the end of the year announced in internal memo earlier in the year. IBM has told Apple it expects the initiative could eventually see 50-75 percent of IBM employees switching over to Mac from the company-standard Lenovo computers used at IBM.

Apple's New iPod Touch Is Basically a Diet iPhone

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Apple iPod Touch

 

Apple introduced a revamped iPod Touch lineup on Wednesday, the product’s first major overhaul since 2012. The new features — a faster processor, a better camera and new fitness tracking capabilities — restore the iPod Touch’s place in Apple’s lineup as an iPhone minus the phone element.

The new iPod Touch, available Wednesday starting at $199, packs the same A8 processor found in the iPhone 6, as well as an eight megapixel rear camera and improved front-facing camera. While the iPod Touch lacks the ability to connect to a cell phone carrier’s wireless network, it does have Wi-Fi, so users can access features like Apple’s new Apple Music streaming service when connected to a local network or hotspot.

The new iPod Touch comes in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB varieties for $199, $249, $299 and $399 respectively. Apple has also added five new colors to the entire iPod lineup.

In many ways, Apple has the iPod to thank for setting it on a path to become the world’s most valuable company. While the iPod received mixed and often cold reviews initially, it soon became synonymous with “.mp3 player,” helped along by the iTunes Music Store’s large selection and ease of use.

But the iPod has long since been eclipsed by the iPhone, which today provides the bulk of Apple’s revenue. Apple no longer identifies the iPod individually in its earnings reports; it’s lumped into an “Other Products” category that’s typically responsible for the smallest chunk of the company’s bottom line. For that reason, it’s always a little surprising when Apple decides to do much of anything with the iPod: It could easily let the product wither away and die, and suffer essentially zero ill consequences for doing so.

Showtime's new cord-cutter channel launches on Apple TV with 30-day free trial

Cable cutters can now access premium network Showtime, home to "Homeland" and "Dexter," via their Apple TV, which launched on Tuesday with a free 30-day trial period.




After the trial ends, Showtime will run subscribers $10.99 per month. The new Showtime streaming channel is available automatically on all second- and third-generation "hockey puck" Apple TV units.

Showtime's streaming-only launch also arrives ahead of the premiere of the third season of "Ray Donovan," starring Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight, which will air this Sunday at 9 p.m. Eastern. It will be followed by the third season premiere of "Masters of Sex," starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, at 10 p.m.

Showtime's new streaming service operates largely the same as HBO Now, which debuted exclusively on the Apple TV in April before making its way to other platforms. But Showtime also undercuts HBO Now's $14.99-per-month price point.




The CBS-owned Showtime first announced last month that it would offer standalone, cable-free subscriptions. It was originally expected to launch July 12, making Tuesday's debut a few days early.

Like HBO, Showtime is known for a combination of original programming and an extensive movie library. Among the channel's most well-known efforts are the thriller "Homeland," crime dramas "Dexter" and "Weeds," and other shows like "Californication" and "United States of Tara."

Cox to Double "Ultimate" Speeds

Cox Communications is rolling out a speed upgrade in Arizona that will double the max downstream speed of its “Ultimate” Internet tier from 150 Mbps to 300 Mbps, while also raising the paired upstream from 20 Mbps to 30 Mbps.

The free upgrade (Ultimate costs $99.99 per month) will be implemented in September, and will be introduced in other Cox markets later this year. Cox is delivering it on its DOCSIS 3.0 network.

Cox has also been busy rolling out G1GABLAST, its 1 Gbps residential service that is initially being offered via FTTP, but will eventually be offered on the MSO’s HFC network via DOCSIS 3.1, an emerging platform that will support multi-gigabit speeds.

Cox first rolled out G1GABLAST first in Phoenix in 2014, and has since introduced it in Orange County, Calif.; Omaha, Neb.; Las Vegas; Hampton Roads, Va.; and New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette, La. Cox is also in the network-deployment phase for it in parts of Arkansas, Rhode Island and Oklahoma, with service to launch in those areas by the end of this year.  Cox has plans underway to offer 1-Gig in all its markets by the end of 2016.

Cox is also rolling out a WiFi network that includes 1,200 hotspots in metro Phoenix and Tucson. Cox is part of a Cable WiFi roaming group (Comcast, Cablevision Systems, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Network are the other current members; Charter Communications will be joining them) that has deployed more than 400,000 hotspots that are accessible to their respective cable modem subs.

 

Apple Pay: A 5-step beginner's guide

Apple CEO Tim Cook has called 2015 “the year of Apple Pay," referring to the company’s highly successful mobile payments system, which was developed across several years.

Step 1: Set up Apple Pay on iPhone

Apple Pay works with iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and an Apple Watch that’s paired with an iPhone 5 or later series device.

Launch the Passbook app (soon to be called Wallet).

Tap Set up Apple Pay

There are a couple of ways to set up Apple Pay for your card.

Add the credit or debit card you already use for iTunes to Passbook by entering the card security code

Or:

Use your iSight camera to scan your card in order to enter your card information.

Or:

Do it manually. Choose Enter a new Credit or Debit Card

Enter the Name, Card Number, Expiration Date and Security Code from your card. Tap Next.

In some cases, your card will be verified with your bank, which may require you make or receive a call and/or enter a code sent to you via SMS.

Your verified card will appear at the top of Passbook & Apple Pay section of settings.

Step 2: Set up Apple Pay on Apple Watch

Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and select Passbook & Apple Pay. Tap ‘Add a Credit or Debit Card."

To add the card you already use with iTunes just enter the security code.

You can also add a card using the iSight camera on your iPhone or type details manually (as above).

Step 3: Using Apple Pay

In theory, Apple Pay works in any store that accepts NFC payments, usually shown by the ‘Contactless’ (tap and pay) symbol on the payment machine. You can already use it internationally if you have an account with a supporting bank.

You can also use Apple Pay to pay with a single touch within apps – just look for the Buy with Apple Pay icon.

To pay with a phone: Just hold your iPhone near the contactless reader with your finger on Touch ID

To pay with Apple Watch: Double-click the side button and hold the face of your Apple Watch up to the contactless reader. A gentle tap and a beep confirm that your payment information has been sent.

If you have multiple cards, you can browse through all available payment cards in Passbook on your iPhone or Apple Watch.

Step 4: Update and remove

If you want to remove a card from Apple Pay to go to Settings>Passbook & Apple pay, tap the card that you want to remove and then select Remove Card.

You can change the address email, or phone number you use for paying within apps Settings > Passbook & Apple Pay to update your information.

Step 5: Is it safe?

Apple likes to say its system is safer than existing chip-and-pin system, and may have a point. Whenever you use a card to pay, your card number and identity are visible. Apple Pay uses a a unique Device Account Number to replace your actual credit and debit card numbers, so your real identity and card number details are not shared. And if you lose your iOS device, you can use Find My iPhone to suspend Apple Pay or wipe your device.

You can also remove your cards from Apple Pay on iCloud.com. Just sign in, click Settings, choose your device, and remove your cards in the Apple Pay section.

 

Inside iOS 9: Apple makes it easier to upgrade with automatic overnight updates, smaller files

By 

news(_AT_)appleinsider.com

Thursday, June 11, 2015, 09:04 am PT (12:04 pm ET)

In a bid to drive the already-impressive iOS upgrade rate even higher, Apple has brought a bit of OS X to iOS 9 with a new automatic installation option that will let iPhones and iPads update themselves — at a convenient time for the user.

"We're also changing the way software updates are presented to the user," OS X platform lead Andreas Wendker said during a session at this week's Worldwide Developers Conference. "Users will be given a choice to install right now, or later at night when they might not need access to devices."

This change will bring iOS in line with OS X, which began offering such an option in Mavericks. 

On the desktop, selecting "Try Tonight" will automatically install available updates between the hours of 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., whenever the computer is not being used. The update process is fully automatic — the computer saves state, restarts itself when necessary, and presents the same state when the user logs on again.

Though further details are not yet available, the new iOS 9 update mechanisms appear to follow the same pattern. A post-update dialog shown on screen at the conference confirms that the update was successfully installed, and gives the user an option to read more information about the changes.

Apple has also reduced the amount of free space required to install updates on the device, from 4.6 gigabytes for iOS 8 to 1.3 gigabytes for iOS 9.

"So we think this is going to keep pushing users to update quickly, and will allow you to keep focusing your energies on the latest version of iOS," Wendker told audience.

Apple Music, iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan: Everything Apple announced at its WWDC 2015 developers conference

We expected a low-key, only modestly consumer-focused conference from Apple's  WWDC 2015; what we got was a lot of new software to look forward to. As predicted, there was no shiny new hardware. But here are the highlights, including the  celebrity-filled rehearsal parody videothat launched the event. And a rarity for Apple, women on stage!

Interested in the stats? Here's  WWDC by the numbers -- or you can always skip to the video highlights.

Apple Music

Tim Cook resurrected Apple's "one more thing" for this announcement. It's been a year since the acquisition of audio company Beats, and a  relatively quiet one at that. But today, the company announced a new music-streaming service, Apple Music .

Designed to address the "fragmented mess" of music,  Apple Music includes Beats 1, a live 24-hour radio station with DJs from New York, LA and London; a curated playlist feature called For You; and Connect, a way for artists to interact with fans, including direct delivery of music from outside the catalog and other content.

In addition to searching its music library, Apple Music will also allow you to search -- and stream -- music from iTunes.

The app has a new interface with a (hideable) mini player along the bottom, thumbnails for recently added albums, varying views, the option to add your own artwork and dragging and dropping items in playlists. You can also watch ad-free music videos.

And of course, you can talk to it with Siri, including natural language search ("Play the song from 'Selma.'")

Apple Music launches later in June on iOS 8.4 (and a bunch of other platforms). The first three months come free, and it'll cost $15 per month for families of up to six people and $10 per month for individuals thereafter. We'll update the Apple Music review page with international pricing and availability as we get them.

iOS 9

Apple's push with  iOS 9 is proactivity. It introduces a new user interface for Siri. Apple's virtual assistant seems to benefit from the natural-language interface technology in OS X, and it has more assistant-like capabilities than before. Interestingly, it sounds a lot like what Google announced two weeks ago at its own conference, I/O.

Siri's been spruced up. It can automatically process invitations with reminders, incorporate map-based information like driving directions and guess the identity of unknown callers from their phone numbers. It can suggest apps based on your actions and do video searches across sites (with direct play). And Siri can automatically add links to reminders you set up.

Plugging in your  headphones can, say, automatically launch your music. You'll be able to scrub through photos, and find them with natural language search ("Show my karaoke photos of Eddy.").

Apple Pay comes to Discover, Baskin-Robbins, B&H Photo and more (here are all the numbers). This fall, Square will bring out a new reader with Apple Pay support and later this month you'll be able to buy pins from Pinterest via Apple Pay. Next month, it crosses the pond to the UK with a bunch of banks and brands (250,000 locations). London's public transport will also be accepting Apple Pay.

In  iOS 9 , you'll be able to add store cards, frequent buyer programs and reward cards in addition to event and travel tickets, coupons and the like. The growing capabilities have driven Apple to rename the Passbook app as Wallet.

There are enhancements to a lot of apps. Notes gets a toolbar with formatting options, automatic checklists, access to your camera roll and camera, and drawing tools. You'll be able to share a link into your notes, see thumbnails and see an attachments view.

In Maps, there's now a public transport map (Transit) with routing, and step-by-step directions with walking time. It looks a lot like the NYC MTA map, and the feature is rolling out globally for big cities.

Say goodbye to Newsstand; say hello to  News, Apple's homegrown news aggregation app. It has been likened to Flipboard, and for good reason. It's an interactive platform that provides a personalized, bookmarkable news feed. There's a new Apple News format that publishers will be able to use for custom layouts. It supports animated imagery and videos and has a Photo Mosaics gallery display. It's also private; what you read is not shared or linked to other Apple services. The usual news sources will be available at launch. In his review of Apple News, CNET's David Katzmaier wrote, "Apple says 30 New York Times articles per week will be delivered free to News users. Also mentioned was ESPN and Conde Nast, and the ability to add just about any type of local content."

One of the big  iPad-related updates: the keyboard is now a trackpad with a two-finger drag. The QuickType keyboard will come with shortcuts for important actions like cut, copy and paste, with additional shortcuts for connected keyboards.

And  multitasking! It has split and picture-in-picture view and a visually redesigned task switcher; a swipe from the right pulls out email and swiping down brings down all your thumbnails of running apps. You can also pin running apps. However, not everything is supported on all iPads -- some are only on the iPad Air onward, and split-screen is only on the iPad Air 2 .

You should see improvements in animation and scrolling on all iOS devices, and extended battery life on the iPhone. There's now a low-power mode, whichApple claims extends life by 3 hours.

Two-factor authenticaion comes to iCloud, and over-the-air updates are smaller (down to 1.3GB from 4GB of iOS 8).

The developer beta launches today and a public beta will be available in July ( here's how to sign up); the free upgrade rolls out in the fall. It will remain compatible with all iOS 8 devices.

OS X 10.11: El Capitan

OS X 10.11 has updates for frequently used applications and enhanced window management. These include making it easier to find the cursor by shaking your finger on the trackpad, email gestures, pinned sites and audio indicators in the tabs in Safari and natural text searches in Spotlight and the other applications ("documents I worked on last June"). It has swipe gestures in Mission Control and more mobile-like window behavior plus tabs in full-screen mode; you can now more easily organize two windows side by side. It has graphical thumbnails for links in Notes, and you'll be able to drag and drop windows to create workspaces.

There are also performance enhancements, including faster app launching, app switching, mail retrieval and preview.  Metal, the company's game application programming interface, was announced last year. combined with moving the OpenGL stack into it, is supposed to deliver better performance. This includes upcoming performance improvements in Adobe After Effects and the Illustrator drawing engine. Game developer Epic claimed a 70 percent lower CPU usage, and demoed its upcoming title Fortnite, built on the Unreal Engine, displaying some pretty nice real-time rendering. Zombies, too.

El Capitan is available today for developers. There's a public beta in July and a free upgrade for all this fall.

Apple Watch

The smartwatch's  Watch OS gets native apps, which means they can be faster, better and smarter. The new version (with the Timepiece API) offers new, motion-sensing changeable faces like photos, photo albums, and a time-lapse photo face.

The OS also gets an information-display feature called Complications, which are single-screen widgets showing weather information, sports scores and so on. The Time Travel feature will show past and future information and events when you rotate the watch's crown. It also has a new nightstand mode intended to give an optimal bedside experience.

It's easier to add friends from the Friend display. Now drawings can be multicolored, and you'll be able to reply to emails, use FaceTime audio right on your wrist and run native fitness apps (apps that work without a phone). You can start workouts via Siri and the watch can display achievements that you can share. Siri will also be able to give you mass transit directions, support talking to your HomeKit devices and bring up third-party apps like Instagram.

The new Wallet and Transit features are supported on the Watch as well.

Watch OS 2 will be available to all in the fall, but the developer preview is available now.

For developers: 'Kits, 'Play and Swift

HomeKit devices finally started shipping just last week (check out our review of the first one, the Lutron Caséta Wireless Lighting Starter Kit ).

Announced at last year's WWDC,  Swift -- here's our primer -- goes open-source with Swift 2. It will gain whole-module optimization, better error handling and protocol extensions.

Apple has opened up its search API, allowing deep links into applications and backlinks. If you've incorporated auto layout and size classes, your apps will automatically support the new split and picture-in-picture views.

Xcode gains UI testing and app thinning for incremental downloads, and GameKit has obstacle avoidance and other physics, plus ReplayKit for sharing gameplay videos.

HealthKit is being updated with hydration, UV exposure and reproductive health APIs;  HomeKitgets updates to control window shades, sensors and security systems, plus iCloud-based management; CarPlay rolls out support for auto makers and wireless connectivity between phone and car.

WatchKit now has the logic to run apps on the Apple Watch instead of the phone and the capability to connect to known Wi-Fi networks. Developers can access the microphone, play audio on the watch speaker (or through a connected Bluetooth device), play small videos, use HealthKit and HomeKit APIs, access the accelerometers, use the Taptic engine and control parameters via the Digital Crown.

And to close things out,  The Weeknd debuted a new song on stage.

 

See CNET's archived live blog, and check out our complete coverage of the Apple WWDC 2015 event.

 

Apple moves to six-digit passcode in iOS 9

Apple plans to require six-digit passcodes to unlock its latest mobile devices that use iOS 9, its forthcoming mobile operating system.

Users already have the option in iOS 8 of setting a much longer passcode than four digits, which is the current minimum requirement. Symbols and letters can also be used.

Increasing the minimum number of digits to six means that there will be 1 million possible combinations rather than 10,000, which "will be a lot tougher to crack," Apple wrote on its website.

The move to longer passcodes is not likely to please U.S. authorities, who have expressed fears that stronger security measures, including encryption, may make it more difficult to obtain information for time-sensitive investigations, such as terrorism.

Apple beefed up the encryption in iOS 8, protecting more sensitive data and employing more protections within hardware to make it harder to access.

Security experts have said that the use of a four-digit passcodes in iOS 8 is likely insufficient to protect data despite the protections Apple put in place. Users are better served by longer, unique passwords, but rarely opt for more complicated ones.

The passcode change will apply to devices that have Touch ID, Apple's fingerprint scanner that is built into the latest versions of its hardware.

Touch ID eliminates the sometimes fiddly process of unlocking a phone using the four-digit code, but Apple does require it to be entered after a device is restarted.

iOS devices have other passcode protection features. For example, if a wrong passcode is entered, an iPhone can lock someone out for a minute and for subsequently longer times if wrong passcodes are repeatedly entered.

A device can also be configured to erase itself after 10 wrong attempts.

The move to six digits could make it a lot harder for law enforcement to randomly guess passcodes on an iOS 9 device if it hasn't been configured to wipe its data.

Apple rolls out cheaper Retina iMac, 15-inch MacBook Pro with Force Touch

Apple is upgrading its 15-inch MacBook Pro, while offering a cheaper downgrade for its 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display.

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro has a pressure-sensitive Force Touch trackpad, following the footsteps of the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the new 12-inch MacBook. Users can press hard on the trackpad to perform special commands, such as previewing links, editing file names, exposing an app’s open windows, and dropping a pin in Maps.

Apple is also using a new type of flash storage that is 2.5 times faster than the previous model, and is improving battery life by an hour, bringing it up to 9 hours of web browsing or movie playback. The base model starts at $1,999 with a 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, and 256 GB of storage.

The other big change to the MacBook Pro is optional: Users can get a discrete AMD Radeon R9 M370X graphics card, for when Intel’s integrated Iris Pro graphics fall short. It’ll cost you though, as it’s only available with the $2,499 model that also has 512 GB of storage and a 2.5 GHz Intel Core i7 processor.

imacretinaApple

As for the Retina display iMac, Apple is adding a cheaper $1,999 variant with a 3.3 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, AMD Radeon R9 M290 graphics, and a 1 TB hard drive. The existing model, which has a 3.5 GHz processor, AMD Radeon R9 M290X graphics, and a 1 TB fusion drive, is getting a $200 price drop to $2,299.

Why this matters: While these aren’t major product launches for Apple, they do spread some of the company’s big technologies to across more of the product line. Force Touch is now standard on every MacBook except the MacBook Air (and is reportedly on the way to the iPhone), and the Retina display iMac is just a $200 upgrade over the regular 27-inch model. It’s not hard to imagine both technologies being standard across Apple’s lineup in a year or two.

Apple Releases OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 With Photos for OS X App, Emoji Updates

As expected, Apple today released OS X Yosemite 10.10.3, the first significant feature-rich update the operating system has received. OS X 10.10.3 was first seeded to developers in February, and was provided to public beta testers in March

The OS X 10.10.3 update can be downloaded through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store. OS X Yosemite Recovery Update 1.0 is also available to improve the reliability of Yosemite Recovery when restoring from a time machine backup. 

The OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 update includes the new Photos app and improves the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac. 

The update also includes the following improvements: 
- Adds over 300 new Emoji characters 
- Adds Spotlight suggestions to Look up 
- Prevents Safari from saving website favicon URLs used in Private Browsing 
- Improves stability and security in Safari 
- Improves WiFi performance and connectivity in various usage scenarios 
- Improves compatibility with captive Wi-Fi network environments 
- Fixes an issue that may cause Bluetooth devices to disconnect 
- Improves screen sharing reliability
Earlier Yosemite releases, including OS X 10.10.1 and 10.10.2, brought mostly under-the-hood bug fixes and reliability improvements to the operating system, but OS X 10.10.3 includes major new features, like the Photos for OS X app. 

Designed to be a replacement for Aperture and iPhoto, Photos for OS X was first announced during the 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference, where Apple promised it would see an "early 2015" release. The Photos for OS X app takes on Yosemite-style design elements, with an emphasis on flatness and translucency, and it integrates with both iCloud Photo Library and the Photos for iOS app. 


Reviews of the Photos for OS X app have suggested that while it's a suitable replacement for iPhoto, with speed improvements and better tools than were found in iPhoto, it lacks many power features that professional users have become accustomed to in its current incarnation, like plug-ins, a loupe, brushable adjustments, and custom metadata fields. 

Along with the new Photos for OS X app, OS X 10.10.3 brings a new emoji picker that consolidates emoji into a single scrollable page with clear labels, new diversified emoji and emoji skin tone modifiers, additional flag emoji and updated emoji for the iPhone, iMac, and Apple Watch. 

10_10_3_emojiThere's also support for Google 2-step verification when setting up accounts in System Preferences, doing away with the need for app specific passwords, and there are Force Touch APIs for developers, which will let them incorporate Force Touch gestures into their apps. 

As noted by MacRumors reader Joe, the Memory section of the Activity Monitor app has been redesigned to make memory usage more clear to users. The App Memory, Wired Memory, and Compressed sections are now listed as part of "Memory Used" rather than listed separately. 

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The best cable modem (for most folks)

 

 

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a list of the best technology to buy. Read the full article below at TheWirecutter.com.

 

 

After researching 57 different cable modems, the $90 ARRIS / Motorola SurfBoard SB6141 DOCSIS 3.0 remains the cable modem we recommend for most people. If instead of renting from your ISP, you buy your own cable modem, you can get a better device and recoup the cost in as little as a year—and then start saving anywhere from $6-$10 each month, depending on your ISP's rental fees.  Yes, you can probably find a slightly cheaper cable modem that only works with your ISP. We prefer our pick because its flexibility makes it a better long-term investment if you change service during the lifetime of the device. Unlike the competition, the SurfBoard is compatible with almost all of the fastest Internet plans from seven of the eight biggest cable Internet providers, including Charter, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable. You can move almost wherever you want and be assured that this buy-once, use-for-awhile device will still work. And you get the flexibility to switch providers if there's a better deal in your area.

 

Read The Complete Article Here.

Apple Watch, new MacBook unveiled; Apple joins forces with HBO Now

Last Updated Mar 9, 2015 2:20 PM EDT

The time has come to finally see the highly anticipated Apple Watch. Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the company's first entirely new product line in five years Monday at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco. 

After talking about a number of other updates, Cook called Apple Watch "the most personal device we have ever created" and "the most advanced timepiece ever created."

Calling the new device a comprehensive health and fitness companion, Cook gave a brief summary of the health and fitness capabilities of Apple Watch, like tracking your movement throughout the day, giving you weekly reports and targets for next week, and reminding you when you've been sitting to long and ought to get up and move around.

A video featuring model and women's health advocate Christy Turlington Burns showed her talking about how Apple Watch fitness apps help her train for races like an upcoming marathon.

Developers have been creating thousands of new apps for the wearable, which is designed for quick bursts of use -- just a few seconds at a time.

Cook ran through some of the various ways Apple Watch can connect to social media, such as the Facebook app, and described how it can be used to keep track of news right when it happens.

VP of Technology Kevin Lynch, who has been overseeing the software on Apple Watch, demonstrated how you can press crown to start Siri and get readouts on the watch face. He also showed how to pay with Apple Pay on the watch, to a round of applause. He also answered a phone call from Bow Wow Meow on the watch on stage and ordered himself an Uber.

Apple Watch communicates with Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth so when your phone is out of Bluetooth range you can still get calls and notifications on the watch.

But before unveiling the wearable, Cook made fans wait just a little longer as he took the stage and opened the event with a video of Apple's new store in China. "We've got a few more reasons for you to visit those stores today. And I'm going to start with Apple TV," he said.

He invited HBO CEO Richard Plepler to introduce HBO Now, the cable network's streaming service, which will launch exclusively with Apple TV.

Cook announced that the company is lowering the price of Apple TV to $69, from $99.

He also highlighted the success thus far of the mobile payment system Apple Pay, which he said has seen the number of locations accepting it triple in the three months since its launch. Cook touted the fact that Coca Cola plans to have 100,000 vending machines that take Apple Pay by the end of the year as a sign that the NFC payment system is "forever changing the way we pay for things." 

Cook brought out Jeff Williams to talk about the new ResearchKit for medical research. The five few apps will launch immediately for breast cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma and Parkinson's, and starting next month the whole thing will launch -- and it will be open source, so it can be used on non-Apple devices.

Then onto the big guns: The MacBook.

"We challenged ourselves to reinvent the notebook -- and we did it," said Cook.

The new model -- powered by the 1.1 GHzIntel Core M -- weighs just two pounds. It's the lightest Mac ever, and the thinnest, 24 percent thinner than the MacBook Air. 

Apple's head of marketing Phil Schiller said this makes "a huge difference."

It has a full sized keyboard that goes all the way to the edge of the all-metal body. Besides being larger, the keyboard is also thinner with larger, more stable keys for more accurate typing.

The 12-inch Retina display is "truly is the best display we've ever built onto a Mac," with 2,304 by 1,440 pixel resolution -- a total of nearly 3.3 million pixels. It will also consume 30 percent less energy. 

The new "Force Touch" trackpad has force sensors to move beyond just touch-to-click and full click. The trackpad will respond differently to the force of your press, for instance fast-forwarding faster the harder you press while watching a video.

And fans will love this: The MacBook is now fan-less, making it much quieter.

The company says it will be able to deliver all-day battery life -- enough for 9 hours of wireless web surfing, or 10 hours of iTunes movie watching -- by creating contoured batteries to fit into the new slimmer body design. The contouring allows 35 percent more battery than the typical rectangular shape.

The new MacBook will begin to ship April 10. The 8GB model will start at $1299, and $1,599 for 512 GB.

MacBook Air will get faster processors and faster memory starting today. MacBook Pro will get the Force Touch trackpad and increased speeds, as well, including another hour of battery life, upping it to 10 hours. B

The main attraction at the event is expected to be the Apple Watch. First revealed in its prototype phase alongside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus at Apple's September media event in Cupertino, Calif., the Apple Watch is the company's highly anticipated entrance into the wearables market. Leaks and rumors have fueled months of excitement for the smartwatch, which will go on sale in April. 

It is also Apple's first foray into a new product market since it released the iPad in 2010. Then, the company sold an impressive sold 7.5 million tablets in the first six months. Reports have said that Apple ordered an initial run of between 5 and 6 million Apple Watches. That's more than the aggregate number of smartwatches shipped in all of 2014, which according to Strategy Analytics, totaled 4.6 million.

CNET reports that Strategy Analytics predicted Apple will ship 15.4 million Apple Watch units in 2015, giving the company 54.8 percent of the global smartwatch market and bumping Samsung to number two.

"Apple's bet is that 5 percent of Apple users that have iPhone will buy the watches," said CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger. "That would translate into 15 million people buying Apple Watches, or 55 percent of the smartwatch market."

Other industry analysts are less optimistic, with sales projections ranging from 8 to 10 million units in their fist nine months on the market. 

Of the units Apple has reportedly ordered, half could be the aluminum Apple Watch Sport, which will start at $349. 

"This is a higher price point than other smartwatches," Schlesinger noted."$300 is really what the market has; Apple is coming in at $349."

The primary style -- called simply Apple Watch -- has a stainless steel case and a ceramic back. The top-tier Apple Watch Edition incorporates 18-karat gold. Prices for the higher end models have been kept quiet.

They're all based on the same curved-edge rectangular-screen design. The face will come in two sizes -- 42mm and 38mm. There are also six different watchbands, including brightly colored rubberized sport bands, classic leather and metal mesh.

Apple Watch will work in tandem with iPhone 5, 5C, 6 and 6 Plus running iOS 8.

Apple to Build Data Command Center in Arizona

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Apple Inc.AAPL +1.25% plans to invest $2 billion to build a data center in Arizona in the location where its failed sapphire manufacturing facility exists, the state announced Monday.

The company plans to employ 150 full-time Apple staff at the Mesa, Arizona, facility, which will serve as a command center for its global network of data centers. In addition to the investment for the data center, Apple plans to build a solar farm capable of producing 70-megawatts of energy to power the facility.

Apple’s investment is expected to create up to 500 construction jobs as well, the state said.

Apple said it expects to start construction in 2016 after GT Advanced TechnologiesInc.GTATQ +1.35%, the company’s sapphire manufacturing partner, clears out of the 1.3 million square foot site. The $2 billion investment is in addition to the $1 billion that Apple had earmarked to build scratch-resistant sapphire screens at the same location.

The investment comes a few months after GTAT filed for bankruptcy protection in October, citing problems with the Arizona facility. Shortly after its bankruptcy filing, GTAT said it planned to lay off more than 700 employees in Arizona.

In October 2013, Apple had agreed to build a sapphire factory in Mesa that GTAT was going to operate. At the time, Apple had said the new factory was going to create 2,000 jobs and move an important part of its supply chain to the U.S.

However, the project struggled to produce a consistent level of sapphire at the quality demanded by Apple. In the end, Apple did not use sapphire from the facility for its latest iPhones. After GTAT’s bankruptcy, Apple has said it was seeking ways to preserve the jobs lost at the Mesa facility.

Arizona’s governor said the state did not provide additional financial incentives to keep Apple in the state. For the original investment in 2013, Arizona provided $10 million to Apple to sweeten the deal for the company.

 

If The iPad Air And Original Mac Had A Child, It Might Look Like This

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The Macintosh is over 30 years old.

In honor of how far the personal computer has come since then, Curved Labs designed a modern Macintosh that draws on the iPad Air.

We won't ever see this computer in the Apple Store, but it's still fun to look at.This computer would be hard to miss, thanks to its curved base and striking resemblance to the original Macintosh. It would have an 11-inch touchscreen in real life.

In this side-by-side shot, you can see how much computer design has evolved since the 1980s.

Curved's concept kept the glowing Apple logo that we've seen on so many iMacs and MacBooks.

The ventilation and fan is discretely hid behind the computer. This concept has a headphone jack, USB port, and lightning port, even though Apple is slowly doing away with those.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

 

Cox unveils faster 'G1gablast' Internet service

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Cox Communications has released pricing and a new brand name to market its residential gigabit Internet service available to customer homes later this month.

“G1gablast” is the new brand name for the Cox service that will offer speeds 100 times faster than the average speed available today.

“We are excited to deliver the choice of gigabit speeds to our customers,” Cox Communications President Pat Esser said in a prepared statement. “Coupled with our 2,300 employees in the Valley and more than 20,000 nationwide, our latest investments and the deployment of the fastest speeds available are powering economic growth and development for businesses and residents of the communities we serve.”

Home-based businesses will benefit from this new service as the need for speed increases.

The “G1gablast” service, with speeds as fast as 1 gigabit per second, will be available in Phoenix for $69.99 when combined with Cox’s service bundles. The service also includes the latest high-speed Wi-Fi router, one terabyte of cloud storage, Cox Security Suite and Family Protection and 10 email boxes each with 15 gigabytes of storage.

“Starting today, trained teams of Cox sales representatives will be personally reaching out, door to door, into the neighborhoods that will be the first to have 1G speed available,” said John Wolfe, senior vice president of the Cox Communications’ southwest region in a prepared statement.

The gigabit service will be available first in parts of the Phoenix metro area, and will expand to Las Vegas, Omaha and new developments in Cox markets nationwide.

Businesses have been using Cox gigabit speeds for more than 10 years.

Hayley Ringle covers technology and startups for the Phoenix Business Journal.

 


http://www.cox.com/giglife

 

Cox Communications plans 1 gigabit speed for Phoenix Internet customers

Cox Communications is upping the ante in the battle for broadband supremacy, bringing 1 gigabit Internet speeds to Phoenix and going head to head with Google Inc.

The Atlanta-based company, which is the major cable and Internet provider in Phoenix, announced the plan this morning to put in the gigabit service for all new construction. Phoenix, along with Las Vegas and Omaha, also will see existing customers get the speed bump by the end of 2016.

“We are excited about our road map to offer gigabit speeds to all of our residential customers,” saidPat Esser, Cox Communications president.

Company officials said it does not yet have prices for how much it will cost for the 1 gigabit service.

The plan was unveiled at Mark Taylor Residential’s San Travesia apartments in Scottsdale, where Cox will first offer the product as well as Cox Metro wi-fi.

“Offering the fastest Internet speeds and wi-fi access where our residents live and play, makes it essential to connecting our tech savvy residents,” said Dale Phillips, president of Mark-Taylor Residential.

The Metro service will launch later in 2014 and give Cox customers access to more than 250,000 hotspots around the country.

While current customers will have to wait more than two years for the increased speeds, Cox plans to double its existing speeds by the end of the year. Those with the preferred tier will see speeds rise to 50 megabits per second, and those on the premier speed will see speeds of 100 megabits per second. Company officials said there would be no price increase this year when Internet speeds are increased.

The move is a clear shot at Google, which has listed Phoenix as one of its finalists to install its Google Fiber network. That network, however, would be limited to Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe.

Google’s move is still in the evaluation stages, but the city of Phoenix has given the company permission to use city land to place network hubs to help build the network.

Patrick O'Grady is managing editor of the Phoenix Business Journal.
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