Video: See Apple Watch animated emoji and Companion app Home Screen rearranging in action

Here’s a couple of fun Apple Watch tidbits: for those wondering what the animated emoji look like that you can create on the Watch and send to your phones, we have been sent two examples … one of a smiley emoji and one of a ‘love’ emoji.

This feature was first shown in September as part of the Watch’s unveiling, although interestingly Apple did not show it again at the March Spring Forward event. Users can use touch to adjust the expressions and make ‘custom’ emojis to send to friends.

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Review: Aukey’s PB-N30 is the first iPhone external battery with a female Lightning port, but does it matter?

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When the first iPhone 6 battery cases hit the market late last year, one 9to5Mac reader commented repeatedly that he was holding out for something with a female Lightning port on the bottom, rather than the currently ubiquitous alternative, micro-USB. Why would anyone care? Well, if an accessory can recharge using Lightning, the same charging cable you get with any iPhone can be used with its accessories, too. That means you’ll have one less cable to carry around, a convenience that inspired Apple late last year to offer accessory developers access to female Lightning connectors.

The rollout has been slow: there’s still no Apple-authorized accessory with a Lightning port, since Apple was still only previewing the feature early this year. But a developer called Aukey decided not to wait for Apple’s seal of approval. As of this week, it’s selling what it claims is “the first and the only portable charger in the world with Apple Lightning input port,” the PB-N30 3600mAh External Battery Charger ($36, sold on Amazon for $15). Given the low price, it’s no surprise that there are a bunch of caveats to consider, but if you’ve been jonesing for a battery with a Lightning port, now you have an option.

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Force Touch features in iMovie illustrate the power of ‘bumpy pixels,’ says haptics pioneer

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Haptic feedback features found in a recent iMovie update illustrate the power of Apple’s new Force Touch trackpad to provide feedback, not just as an input device, says one of the pioneers of the technology.

Freelance film editor Alex Gollner first noticed Apple was using the trackpad to provide tactile feedback in a recent update to iMovie.

When dragging a video clip to its maximum length, you’ll get feedback letting you know you’ve hit the end of the clip. Add a title and you’ll get feedback as the title snaps into position at the beginning or end of a clip. Subtle feedback is also provided with the alignment guides that appear in the Viewer when cropping clips.

Apple showed-off the Force Touch feature when announcing the new 12-inch MacBook, also adding it to the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. The WSJ recently claimed that Apple also plans to introduce the feature to the touchscreen on the next generation of the iPhone …  Read more

Apple reportedly cracks down on antivirus apps from iOS App Store, many apps pulled

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Searching for ‘antivirus’ now only shows games or Find My iPhone-esque apps.

Apple has seemingly decided to crack down on antivirus and antimalware apps, removing them from the App Store. Although there has been no official statement from Apple on a policy change, Apple’s loose guidelines allow them to pull pretty much anything at any time, particularly something like antivirus which has questionable utility within the sandboxed iOS environment of iPhones and iPads.

One casualty of the removal is Intego’s VirusBarrier, which claims that this takedown was not specific to its product with Apple deciding the entire category of antivirus products is now off-limits.

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Apple execs talk developing ResearchKit: ‘there’s a strong personal connection’

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Apple SVP Jeff Williams announcing ResearchKit

Following the introduction of ResearchKit at this month’s Apple event, Apple executives Jeff Williams and Bud Tribble held a question and answer session with Apple employees regarding the new initiative, according to a source who provided a transcript of the conversation. Williams, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Operations, is the top executive in charge of Apple’s health engineering initiatives, including the Apple Watch, HealthKit, ResearchKit, and fitness software. Tribble is a Software Engineering Vice President with a medical background as a doctor, and he organized many of the partnerships for both HealthKit and ResearchKit…

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ResearchKit may go beyond individual studies, open up era of ‘open-source’ medical research

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We’ve already seen the potential of Apple’s ResearchKit platform to sign up large numbers of participants to medical studies in an incredibly short time, but a reported conversation between the founder of an open science non-profit and an Apple VP suggests that the potential goes far beyond this.

Fusion, in an extensive profile, reports that Apple may be intending to collect anonymised health data in a central database accessible to medical researchers around the world, enabling each to benefit from that shared data to forward their own studies. The vision was initially put forward at a conference back in September, long before ResearchKit was announced, by Stephen Friend, the founder of Seattle-based Sage Bionetworks, a nonprofit that champions open science and data sharing.

“Imagine ten trials, several thousand patients. Here you have genetic information, and you have what drugs they took, how they did. Put that up in the cloud, and you have a place where people can go and query it, [where] they can make discoveries.” In this scenario, Friend said, patients would be able to control who could access their information, and for which purposes. But their health data would be effectively open-sourced.

Apple reportedly took an immediate interest in the idea …  Read more

Feature: Becoming the Apple stereotype of writing a novel on a MacBook in Starbucks

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Of all the stereotypes we hear about Apple owners, there is perhaps none so enduring as the guy writing a novel on his MacBook in Starbucks. Well, one November, I became that guy. Fast-forward a few years, and I have a 110,000-word technothriller ready to unleash on an unsuspecting public.

I’d had an idea for a novel years earlier, but I’d initially done what almost everyone does when they have an idea for a novel: absolutely nothing. The gap between having an idea and having a completed novel seemed too enormous to contemplate, especially when it would have to be combined with, you know, working for a living.

But then someone told me about something called NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. Every November, around 400,000 people across the USA, UK, Canada and a number of other countries around the world attempt to write 50,000 words of a novel. I decided to become one of them–using Apple technology, naturally …  Read more

Unscrupulous website adverts again redirecting some users to App Store from Safari

Update: Some of the websites shown in the video cannot be explained by the hypothesis posted below about adverts redirecting to the App Store. The large amount of corroboration by readers about this happening to them suggests there is a mechanism, somewhere along the line, causing a real problem.

Website advertisement companies have found a way to circumvent the protections introduced in iOS 8 to stop users from being kicked to the App Store because of certain cleverly-coded JavaScript advertisements.

I am now experiencing this myself, and it makes browsing on the iPhone unusable. Browsing to websites such as Reddit and Reuters and others now automatically open the App Store. In many cases, there is no way for me to read the actual content on the pages. You can see this happen in the video above.

This flared up as a serious issue last year, when users found they were being taken to random App Store pages without granting any kind of permission…

In iOS 8 beta 2, Apple supposedly had remedied the issue: “Safari now blocks ads from automatically redirecting to the App Store without user interaction.”. However, it seems that ad companies have now managed to work around these safeguards. Read more

Apple Store retail plan for Watch: 15 min. appointments, 10+ try-on stations, Experts for Edition

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Apple will introduce several major initiatives to ready its retail stores for the Apple Watch’s launch in April, according to sources briefed on the upcoming changes. Starting on April 10th, Apple will allocate 15 minutes per customer for in-store try-on appointments, using 10 or more try-on stations to manage what’s expected to be a steady flow of customers interested in having hands-on time with the Watch. While customers will not necessarily be required to have an appointment, they will be time-limited and guided during the hands-on experience. Additionally, they will be given the opportunity to place a reservation at the time of try-on for a particular model, and make a follow-up appointment to pick the watch up during the April 24th launch date. Stores will also have launch day stock for walk-in appointments.

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China Unicom & China Telecom will sell iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3 cellular models for first time

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China Unicom and China Telecom announced today that they will start selling the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 to customers starting March 27. This is the first time the carriers, two of the top three largest in the country, will offer customers in China the Wi-Fi + Cellular models of Apple’s latest generation tablets.  Read more

FastCo interview: Tim Cook talks Apple philosophy/legacy, Apple watch skepticism, new Campus & more

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Fast Company has an extensive interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook, focusing on what has changed and what has stayed the same since he took over from Steve Jobs. The interview comes a day after FastCo published a sizeable excerpt from the book Becoming Steve Jobs, in which Cook criticized the portrayal of Jobs in Isaacson’s biography.

Cook said that while much has changed, the culture–the fundamental goal of the company–remained the same.

Steve felt that if Apple could do that—make great products and great tools for people—they in turn would do great things. He felt strongly that this would be his contribution to the world at large. We still very much believe that. That’s still the core of this company.

The company has never tried to be first to market, he said, but rather to “have the patience to get it right” …  Read more

WSJ: Apple in talks to add Discovery and Viacom to rumored Web TV service

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Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and the Discovery Channel are among the channels that could be making their way to Apple’s reported new web TV service, as the WSJ reports that Apple is in talks with Discovery and Viacom. The paper had earlier said that Apple’s online TV service would be announced in June and launched in September with 25+ channels.

Discovery, owner of Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and TLC, and Viacom, owner of MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, are in talks to be on the Apple service, people familiar with the matter said.

We first heard about the plans in early February. ABC, CBS and Fox are already believed to be on board for the service, which is expected to cost somewhere in the $25-40/month range …  Read more