Sources offer hands-on Apple Watch details: battery life, unannounced features, and more

Just ahead of the finalized Apple Watch’s presentation at Apple’s March 9th “Spring Forward” event, sources with hands-on Apple Watch experience have revealed a collection of new details about the device’s features to 9to5Mac. Our sources have offered new information on the Watch’s real-world battery life, health and fitness features, apps, and experiences using Apple’s next-generation touchscreen hardware…

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Apple plans relaunched Beats streaming music service for WWDC, skipping March event; Apple TV still coming

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Apple won’t take the wraps off of its upcoming Beats-based music streaming service at its March 9 “Spring Forward” event, according to music industry sources briefed on the launch timeline. Instead, Apple currently plans to introduce the service, at least in beta form, at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in early June. The WWDC keynote likely takes place on Monday, June 8th, and that’s the event where the debut will occur. The new iTunes music streaming service is based on technology acquired from Beats Music, including curated playlists, cloud-based libraries, and offerings customized to the musical tastes of individual users. The service will be priced as high as $7.99 per month, which is less expensive than current $9.99 pricing for Beats Music, Spotify, and Rdio…

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New Apple Pay FAQ details fraud, fees & merchant policies ahead of Apple Watch

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Ahead of likely Apple Watch and Apple Pay announcements on Monday during Apple’s ‘Spring forward’ event, Apple has spruced up the main Apple Pay site to further highlight the Watch’s compatibility with Apple Pay and clarify frequently asked questions about the service for merchants. Changes to the site include a dedicated page for finding out where to use Apple Pay, and a new FAQ support document to help merchants learn about Apple Pay and start accepting the mobile payment service. Read more

WSJ: Apple considering adding USB 3.0 ports & mouse input support to larger iPad model

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Following up on today’s report that the 12.9-inch iPad has been pushed back to September, the Wall Street Journal claims tonight that the hardware features for the device are still in flux. According to this latest rumor, Apple is considering adding USB 3.0 ports to the tablet to allow users to connect external devices.

We’ve already heard that the company may be planning to build its first external input device for the “iPad Pro,” but this is the first time we’ve heard that there may be plans in the works to support the connection of additional peripherals.

As unbelievable as it seems, the report even suggests that Apple will allow the connection of mice and keyboards.

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Bloomberg: Apple pushes back 12.9-inch iPad Pro production to September

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The 12.9-inch “iPad Pro” that was expected to make its first public appearance around April before being pushed back to Q2 has been postponed yet again, a new Bloomberg report says. The new release date is reportedly some time in September, right around the next-gen iPhone launch.

This delay is said to be the result of display panel supply problems…

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‘Spring forward’ banners start going up at Yerba Buena ahead of March 9 event

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The banners for the Spring Forward Apple event have started going up at Yerba Buena, in preparation for March 9th. As is usual, the display mirrors the logo and patterns seen on the event invite sent last week. Apple has already been setting up an outdoor structure behind the venue, which will likely become the demo area for press when the event is over.

More pics below (we’ll update as the workers fill in the banner)  …

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Next iPhone rumored to (unsurprisingly) feature 2 GB of RAM, Force Touch, Apple SIM

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AppleInsider is reporting that it has received information about the next-generation iPhone hardware. It claims that the next iPhone, generally expected to be a ‘6s’ style device (meaning that it will feature internal changes but the external chassis will be the same as the 6), will feature 2 GB of RAM, just like the A8X in the iPad Air 2. It also says that Apple is considering inclusion of an Apple SIM as standard, just like the cellular iPads.

For some context, the iPhone first shipped with 1 GB of RAM in 2012 with the iPhone 5. This means a RAM jump is now about ‘due’, with many expecting an increase last year to help accommodate the increased asset size required by the Retina HD iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

Although 9to5Mac cannot directly backup the claims, the advancements feel like an obvious progression for the device given Apple’s inclusion of 2 GB of RAM in the iPad Air 2 as well as the introduction of the Apple SIM last fall. Note also that Apple has doubled RAM every few generations of iPhone, and given that many were expecting an increase last cycle, it is not surprising to see it rumored for the ‘iPhone 6s’, which is likely to feature new and improved internals like other ‘tock’ years.

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Apple Watch’s retail sales pitch revealed: 3 key features, switch to iPhone, focus on bands

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With next week’s Apple Watch event fast approaching, Apple has revealed its retail selling strategies to employees, including a focus on “three key features” and a plan to encourage Watch customers to upgrade or switch to new iPhones. According to selling guidelines provided by sources within Apple Retail, Apple believes that “many customers have already decided they want an Apple Watch,” and will use the Watch to “position the benefits” of purchasing a compatible iPhone model. Retail employees have been told to ask customers about their iPhone usage habits, their favorite feature in iOS 8, and if they use health and fitness software on their iPhone…

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Review: Anker’s Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2 brings reasonable pricing and smart design to Bluetooth typing folios

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I’ve tested almost every major iPad keyboard case since the first iPad was released five years ago, and still recall when companies charged $100 for greasy vinyl folios with terrible, squishy rubber keys. Thankfully, a lot has changed since then. If you’re willing to spend $100, you can get a much nicer iPad-holding case attached to a nearly great keyboard. Drop $130-$150 (or go nuts for $170), and you can get a metal keyboard that partially resembles a MacBook Air. Personally, $100 is the ceiling I’d ever be willing to pay for an iPad keyboard case, and I’d rather pay less. But unless you count discontinued models for prior-generation iPads, there aren’t many great options.

Anker is changing that. Its new Bluetooth Folio Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2 sells for a stunningly low $40, and just like the 25,600mAh Anker iPad battery pack I previously reviewed, it delivers remarkable value for its price point. As the product of strategic compromises, it winds up giving up only one thing I typically prefer — a complete iPad-holding frame — in order to offer an excellent typing experience for the same cost as a typical iPad case without a keyboard. Read on for the reasons why I’d recommend this over options costing three times the price.

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Gartner: iPhone worldwide sales topped Samsung in holiday quarter, but Samsung won the year

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Gartner is out with its latest report tracking smartphone movement during the previous year and more specifically the holiday quarter.

Headlining the report is news that over 1 billion smartphones were sold in 2014, a data point IDC first said was hit in the previous year, adding that two out of three phones sold last year qualified as smartphones.

Gartner’s data shows Apple topped Samsung in worldwide smartphone sales with 74,832,000 units shipped during the holiday quarter, just 1.8 million units more than Samsung, giving Apple 20.4% market share for the quarter, a virtual tie with Samsung’s 19.9%. Read more

Apple hanging billboards on skyscrapers and buildings around the world to showcase iPhone 6 photography

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As part of its Shot on iPhone 6 campaign promoting iPhone photography, Apple is now hanging billboard advertisements around the world. The ads feature the photographs in full bleed with a simple ‘Shot on iPhone 6′ tagline. The posters are going up around the world, including some dramatic large billboards on the side of skyscrapers. Pictured above is one such poster (photo taken by Jimmy Grewal on Twitter) being setup on a skyscraper in Dubai.

In total, the campaign will showcase 77 different individual’s images spanning 24 countries. Users on Twitter have been posting sightings of these ads from all over the world …

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