09 MAR

Apple Watch Pre-Orders to Open on April 10, Available Starting on April 24

by Marianne Schultz

apple-watch-singleApple capped its media event today by announcing the official release date and pricing for its highly-anticipated Apple Watch, which was first announced in September.

Apple Watch begins a new chapter in the way we relate to technology and we think our customers are going to love it,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We can’t wait for people to start wearing Apple Watch to easily access information that matters, to interact with the world, and to live a better day by being more aware of their daily activity than ever before.”

Featuring several sensors to provide health information and feedback, including a heart rate sensor and step-tracking functions, Apple Watch also offers Apple Pay for fast mobile payments. Apple Watch apps will offer access to popular services like Instagram, Uber, and others along with the ability to answer incoming calls and view and respond to text messages on a paired iPhone.

Of course, the Apple Watch also offers basic time-telling functions with multiple watch face styles available that can also be customized by the user.

Apple Watch requires a paired iPhone for many functions since it relies on the iPhone’s cellular radio for internet connectivity and calls and its GPS receiver. It connects to the iPhone via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

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In iOS 8.2, a new app called Apple Watch will be available to browse and download Apple Watch apps. iOS 8.2 will be available for download today.

The Apple Watch offerings are available in two case sizes –38mm and 42mm– and are divided into three collections: Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch, and Apple Watch Edition.

Apple Watch Sport features an anodized aluminum case, an Ion-X glass display, and fluoroelastomer bands available in multiple colors and is priced at $349 for the 38mm model and $399 for the 42mm model. Each Apple Watch Sport comes with 2 bands, each in a different size.

The Apple Watch models feature a stainless steel case available in traditional silver and space black, a sapphire crystal display, and wide selection of bands in leather, fluoroelastomer, and metal. Apple Watch prices range from $549 to $1049 for the 38mm model and from $599 to $1099 for the 42mm models, depending on the band selected.

The Apple Watch Edition, which is made of solid 18-karat gold, features a sapphire crystal display, and comes with a charging case in addition to a charging cable, will only be available in select Apple stores and will start at $10,000.

Pre-orders begin on April 10 and in-store previews will be available starting on this date as well. The Apple Watch will be available starting on April 24 in 9 countries to start. You can check out detailed prices in Apple’s online store and download an Apple Watch size guide (PDF document). You can also see the watch cases in their actual sizes in the Apple Store app.

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09 MAR

Apple Announces New 12-inch MacBook with Retina Display

by Marianne Schultz

gold-macbookApple announced an update to its MacBook line of portable computers today, introducing a new 12-inch model with a retina display that features a redesigned keyboard and a new Force Touch trackpad with taptic feedback.

Apple has reinvented the notebook with the new MacBook, and at just two pounds and 13.1 mm, it’s the thinnest and lightest Mac ever,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “Every component of the MacBook reveals a new innovation. From its fanless design, ultra-thin Retina display and full-size keyboard that’s 34 percent thinner, to its all-new Force Touch trackpad, versatile USB-C port and breakthrough terraced battery design, the new MacBook is the future of the notebook.”

The new MacBook is thinner than any other laptop Apple has made, coming in at 13.1 mm at its thickest point and weighing 2 lbs. The full-sized back-lit keyboard has individual LED lights for every key to offer even backlighting across the entire keyboard, and has butterfly mechanisms to enhance stability and precision during typing. The Force Touch trackpad has multiple sensors and can differentiate between light touches and harder taps.

Terraced and contoured batteries inside the new MacBook fill all empty space and offer battery capacity to allow "all day" battery life of up to 9 hours for web browsing.

The new MacBook offers only one port for power and wired connectivity in the USB-C format. Apple will offer several adapters to connect it to USB, HDMI, DisplayPort, and VGA devices. It includes Wi-Fi 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0 for wireless connectivity.

The new MacBook will come in silver, space gray, and gold. The base model with a 1.1 GHZ dual-core Intel Core M processor, 256GB solid state drive, and 8GB of RAM will cost $1299. It will begin shipping on April 10.

Updates to the rest of its portable computer line were also announced today. The MacBook Air gets faster processor options and Thunderbolt connectors. The MacBook Pro gets the new Force Touch trackpad, faster processor options, faster flash storage, and better battery life. The updated MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models are available starting today.

09 MAR

‘HBO NOW’ Subscription Coming to Apple Devices in April

by Marianne Schultz

hbo-nowAt today’s media event, Apple and HBO announced the upcoming availability of a stand-alone subscription to HBO through Apple devices. The new service, dubbed HBO NOW, will be available starting in April and accessible via Apple TV and iOS devices for $14.99 per month.

HBO NOW is the next phase of innovation at HBO,” said Richard Plepler, Chairman and CEO, HBO. “With this new partnership, a natural evolution for the network, we have access to millions of Apple customers who are used to getting their favorite apps immediately. Now, they can do the same with an HBO subscription.”

HBO NOW will allow access to all of HBO's current shows and some of its older catalog of shows and movies. Those who subscribe in April will get the first month for free and be able to see the season five premier of the network's popular Game of Thrones series. The service will be accessible on iOS devices through a new HBO NOW app and as a channel on Apple TV.

Apple is also lowering the price of its Apple TV device to $69, starting today.

20 OCT

Apple Releases iOS 8.1 with Apple Pay, Photo Album, More

by Marianne Schultz

desktop_ios8_iconAs promised at last week’s media event, Apple has released iOS 8.1 which adds Apple Pay for its new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices, along with the return of the Photo Album within Photos and the ability to send and receive text messages on a Mac running Yosemite via a paired iPhone, and much more.

Apple Pay is arguably the most notable and anticipated feature in iOS 8.1 and it’s easy to set up. Once you’ve upgraded your iPhone 6 to iOS 8.1, open the Passbook app and tap on the option to add a credit or debit card. You’ll then be walked through adding the card’s information, which you can do manually or by using the device’s camera.

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The last step is verifying that you’re the owner of the credit card and indeed want to add it to Apple Pay, which can be done via phone, text message, or email. For my Citibank card, I opted to receive a text message, but it didn’t arrive after several minutes so I went back and chose to call Citibank and provided a password to complete the process. For my American Express card, I opted to receive a text message with a code, which did arrive immediately and the card was added after I entered the code into Passbook.

Once you’ve set up your eligible credit and debit cards, you should be able to pay for goods and services at participating stores with just your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus and your fingerprint via TouchID. Apple has published a list of participating stores.

Currently only the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus can use Apple Pay for contactless payments in stores, while other devices with TouchID can use Apple Pay though only for in-app and online purchases since they lack the NFC chips present in the newest iPhones.

For more information, you can check out Apple’s own Apple Pay FAQ, a walk-through on how to set up and use Apple Pay, and Apple’s list of participating issuing banks. If you’re concerned about how safe and secure Apple Pay is, read Apple’s overview of Apple Pay security and privacy.

Here’s a demo video showing how Apple Pay works from TechCrunch:

I’m going to try out Apple Pay tonight. The credit card I use most often isn’t from a participating bank (hustle up, Fidelity!) and while I’m hoping that will change soon, I still have others I can test it out with in the meantime. Are you excited about Apple Pay?

16 OCT

Mac OS X Yosemite Available Today, iOS 8.1 Coming October 20

by Marianne Schultz

yosemite-roundelIf you’ve been looking forward to updating your Mac to the newest OS available, today is your day. At its press event this morning, Apple announced that the latest version of its Mac OS, Yosemite, will be available today as a free download. Also announced today was the release date for iOS 8.1, which will hit on Monday, October 20. Both updates have the phenomenal price of $0.

OS X Yosemite is the most advanced version of OS X we’ve ever built, with a brand new design, amazing Continuity features and powerful versions of the apps you use every day,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “OS X Yosemite ushers in the future of computing, where your Apple devices all work together seamlessly and magically. It’s something only Apple can do, and it’s available today.”

In YosemiteMessages and Mail have been revamped and new Continuity features provide seamless integration in editing documents and even phone calls and text messages with a paired iPhone. Spotlight search has also been overhauled with more robust search results and information and iCloud Drive officially debuts with document storage that’s accessible from both Macs and iOS devices.

iphone6-apple-payThe bump to iOS 8.1 brings the debut of Apple Pay, the company’s new electronic payment system that uses NFC technology built into the newest iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models. With Visa, Mastercard, and American Express on board, along with hundreds of banks and stores, Apple Pay will let users forget their wallets and still make credit card purchases in participating stores using only an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus and their fingerprint via Touch ID. The just-announced iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 will be able to take advantage of Apple Pay too but only for online purchases since these tablets lack the NFC chips present in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

I’m super excited for Apple Pay and will be trying that out as soon as I can on Monday. I already carry very little cash on me and use a credit card for everything I can since I earn cash back with them. And since I carry my iPhone 6 in a pocket, it will be that much quicker to make my purchases without having to dig my wallet out of my purse.

Are you looking forward to Apple Pay? If you have a Mac, are you making the jump to Yosemite today or will you wait a little while?

UPDATE: Yosemite is now in the Mac App Store. You can get to it through the link below.

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16 OCT

Apple Announces iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 with Touch ID

by Marianne Schultz

ipad-air-2At its media event today, Apple announced the next iPad models. The iPad Air 2 is the newest version of the company’s full-size tablet and the iPad mini 3 is the newest smaller tablet in the company’s tablet line-up. Both devices get Touch ID sensors in the home button for device unlocking, compatibility with Apple Pay for online purchases, and more.

iPad is a magical piece of glass that runs more than 675,000 apps specifically designed for it, and is thin and light enough that you can comfortably hold it all day; the new iPad Air 2 is packed with amazing new innovations, weighs less than a pound, and at just 6.1 mm is the thinnest tablet in the world,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “iPad Air 2 has a new Retina display with anti-reflective coating, second generation 64-bit A8X chip, all-new iSight and FaceTime HD cameras, faster Wi-Fi and LTE wireless, and includes the revolutionary Touch ID fingerprint identity sensor.”

The iPad Air 2 is even thinner than its predecessor and features an improved display with an anti-reflective coating and new sensors including a barometer and the M8 motion coprocessor that has previously only been present in the recent iPhone models.

The iPad Air 2 also gets an upgraded rear camera, with a bump to 8 megapixels up from 5 in the previous model, and the ability to take panoramic photos, capture images in burst mode, and time lapse and slow motion video recording. The front-facing camera also gets a new sensor, burst selfies, and HDR photo and video.

Pre-orders for the iPad Air 2 will begin on October 17, with shipping beginning about a week later. The Wi-Fi only versions will cost $499 for the 16GB model, $599 for the 64GB model, and $699 for the 128GB model. The Wi-Fi + cellular versions will cost $629, $729, and $829 respectively for the different storage configurations.

The iPad mini 3 will cost $399 for the 16GB model, $499 for the 64GB model, and $599 for the 128GB model. As with the iPad Air, cellular capabilities will add $130 to the price for each storage configuration. No spec changes, aside from the addition of Touch ID, were announced for the iPad mini 3.

All new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 models will be available in silver, space gray, and gold and Apple will begin taking pre-orders on October 17, with shipping beginning about a week later.

09 SEP

Apple Announces iPhone 6 Models and NFC-Based Electronic Payment System

by Marianne Schultz

iphone6-modelsApple’s event today was chock full of good stuff and the first announcement out of the gate was about the new iPhone 6 models. As rumored, the next generation of Apple’s game-changing mobile phone will come in two screen sizes: 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch. Both models are thinner than the iPhone 5s, featuring Retina HD displays that curve around the left and right sides of each device.

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are the biggest advancements in iPhone history,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The iPhone is the most loved smartphone in the world with the highest customer satisfaction in the industry and we are making it much better in every way. Only Apple can combine the best hardware, software and services at this unprecedented level and we think customers are going to love it.”

Both devices feature Apple’s new A8 64-bit chip that offers a 20% boost in processing speed and a 50% increase in graphics processing. Apple’s motion processing M8 chip has also gotten an upgrade to estimate distance traveled and elevation changes with the addition of an internal barometer. The camera has a new sensor and a new feature called Focus Pixels that allows faster autofocusing and improved tone mapping and noise reduction. Panoramic photos will be up to 43 megapixels in size. Video capture capabilities have improved to 60 frames per second and up to 240 frames per second in slow motion.

The new iPhones feature new gestures to aid in one-handed use, including a new double-touch of the home button that slides everything down on the screen to allow easy access to the buttons at the top. Also, the sleep/wake button has been relocated to the right side. Despite the new chip and larger screen, both new iPhone models will have better battery life for most tasks compared to the iPhone 5s.

Both models also feature Near-Field Communications (NFC) and a dedicated chip dubbed “Secure Element” for secure electronic payments with credit and debit cards offered by Visa, Mastercard, and American Express to support Apple Pay, which was also announced today. Several major banks are on board, including Bank of America, Chase, and others. Major retailers have also signed on, including Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Subway, and Walgreens.

Apple Pay will be available only with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus starting next month and will require a free update to iOS 8. When it’s released in 2015, Apple Pay will also work with the Apple Watch.

The iPhone 6 will be available starting on September 19 with the 16GB model priced at $199, a 64GB model at $299, and a 128GB model at $399, all with a 2-year contract. The iPhone 6 Plus starts at $299 for the 16GB model, $399 for the 64GB model, and $499 for the 128GB model, all with a 2-year contract. Pre-orders will be available starting September 12.

As with the Apple Watch, Jared Nelson from our sister site TouchArcade.com got some hands-on time with both iPhone 6 models, which you can check out in the video embedded below.

What iPhone 6 model will you get? From Jared’s video, the iPhone 6 Plus doesn’t look ridiculously large compared to the iPhone 5s. This combined with the new double-tap gesture on the home button to slide the app view down to make buttons at the top of the screen easier to access with one hand, could push me to the larger model. Which iPhone 6 model are you going to get?

09 SEP

Apple Watch Revealed with Early 2015 Release Timeframe and $349 Price Tag

by Marianne Schultz

iwatch+iphone6The heavily-rumored iWatch was announced today, debuting as the Apple Watch in the “one more thing” portion of the event. The Apple Watch will offer significantly more functionality than just time-telling, featuring several health tracking sensors and functions and substantial integration with a paired iPhone via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in terms of notifications and communication.

Apple introduced the world to several category-defining products, the Mac, iPod, iPhone and iPad,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “And once again Apple is poised to captivate the world with a revolutionary product that can enrich people’s lives. It’s the most personal product we’ve ever made.”

The Apple Watch features an innovative new interface. Instead of relying solely on a touch interface, the watch’s “digital crown” offers zoom, scrolling, and tap control to avoid obscuring the display with your fingers. It has a sapphire crystal display that senses touch and force via tiny electrodes built into it. The Apple Watch also has a “Taptic Engine” to provide discreet vibration feedback.

On the back, sapphire lenses detect heart rate and the internal gyroscope and accelerometer detect motion. Location information will come from the paired iPhone’s GPS receiver and Wi-Fi radio.

Three versions of the Apple Watch will be available: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition. The versions differ in casing material, from stainless steel to aluminum alloy on the Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport versions, to 18-karat rose or yellow gold on the Apple Watch Edition. Additionally, there will be two watch face sizes of each version: 38 mm and 42 mm. A variety of bands will be available made from leather, elastomer, and stainless steel. All models will charge inductively using a MagSafe-like adapter that snaps onto the back.

A new API will be available to developers so that they can create apps for Apple Watch and enable richer notifications from a paired iPhone. To monitor fitness, Apple Watch includes two apps: Fitness and Workout. Fitness tracks daily activities and movement while Workout tracks exercise sessions.

An iPhone is required to use an Apple Watch and it will work with the iPhone 5, 5s, 5c and the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models. Though details on battery life were not announced, Tim Cook described that charging will be easy with the magnetically-connected inductive charger “every night”. Apple Watch will be available in early 2015 and will start at $349.

You can see a film narrated by Jony Ive, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Design, and find more information about Apple Watch on Apple’s site here: apple.com/watch/

UPDATE: Jared Nelson, Editor at our sister site TouchArcade.com, attended the event and got a little hands-on time with the Apple Watch today, which is now embedded below:

09 SEP

Apple to Release iOS 8 on September 17

by Marianne Schultz

desktop_ios8_icon At its press event today, Apple announced that the next version of its mobile operating system will be available starting September 17. iOS 8 was first unveiled at the keynote event for WWDC in June and it will offer several upgrades to Siri’s capabilities, notifications, keyboard enhancements and more.

We’re excited for hundreds of millions of users to begin experiencing iOS 8, with incredible features that offer new ways to use your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “iOS 8 also creates an extraordinary environment for developers, providing them the ability to create amazing new apps like never before.”

New APIs available to developers will allow them to share data across apps. Mac users will get even more integration and communication between their computers and iOS devices with iCloud Drive for centralized storage of documents and the ability start and continue text message conversations and even phone calls on a Mac running Yosemite, the next version of Apple’s Mac operating system due to be released this fall.

iOS 8 will be a free download and will work on the following devices: iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, fifth-generation iPod touch, iPad 2, 3, and 4, iPad Air, and all iPad mini models.

04 SEP

Apple to Live Stream September 9 iPhone Announcement Event

by Marianne Schultz

9-9-14 event screenshot

In case you hadn’t already heard, Apple will be holding a press event on September 9 where the company is expected to announce the next iPhone models and perhaps even unveil a new wearable device along with the release date of iOS 8. This afternoon, Apple announced that the event will be streamed live through its website and on a special channel on its Apple TV devices. The event will take place at 9:00 am PDT next Tuesday at the Flint Center at De Anza College in Cupertino and you can tune into www.apple.com/live to catch the juicy details as the event unfolds. Prior to the event, you’ll find a countdown timer and even a handy little shortcut to add the event to your calendar on that page.

So far, the rumors flying around indicate that Apple will announce two iPhone models with larger screens – one with a 4.7-inch screen and a second with a 5.5-inch screen. The announcement of a wearable device, dubbed the iWatch by the press, is also expected though reports state that this device won’t actually be available to purchase for several months. If you want an overview of all of these rumors, check out the iPhone 6 Roundup page and the iWatch Roundup page over at our sister site, MacRumors.com.

As an Apple fan, I am definitely looking forward to this event and I do plan to upgrade to whatever new iPhone Apple announces to appease the ever-hungry technology addict that lives within me. If both models have the same features, I’ll probably go for the 4.7-inch model since with small hands, the 4-inch screen of the iPhone 5s is almost a stretch for me already and going much larger will negate its utility for me. I say that now but I make no promises since I could easily be seduced by the larger model. Which model iPhone do you think you’ll get? Tell us in the comments.