Apple to launch Android device trade-in program to encourage iPhone upgrades

iPhone 6 in Apple Store - Reuters

iPhone 6 in Apple Store – Reuters

In a move to boost iPhone sales, Apple will soon introduce a new recycling and trade-in program that will accept non-Apple smartphones, notably including Android and BlackBerry devices, in exchange for gift cards to be used toward the purchase of new iPhones. In continuing to court Android switchers, Apple will use a similar system to the one it uses to repurchase iPhones, whereby Apple Retail Store employees determine trade-in values for devices by considering their cosmetic and functional condition, according to multiple sources…

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Review: Anker’s 60W 6-Port USB Charger is ready for your family’s iPads, iPhones, and Watches

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USB chargers aren’t sexy, but they’re critically important to iOS users — so vital that every iPhone and iPad arrives with a basic one-port charger in the box. Without USB recharging assistance, these devices would literally be dead after one day of active use. And the more Apple devices you (or your family) use every day, the more valuable a multi-device charging hub becomes. When I travel with my wife and kids, I can’t leave the house without a charging solution for everyone’s iPads and iPhones.

Up until two or three years ago, few families had five or six Apple devices. Moreover, early multi-device chargers were expensive: Griffin charged $100 for an early five-port charging station, and Bluelounge charged $100 for a four-port version. But that’s changing. iPads are cheaper than ever, iPhones are more ubiquitous than ever, and Apple Watches are about to add “one more thing” to the list of Apple devices requiring a daily charge. Thankfully, great multi-device chargers have become affordable; RAVPower’s Bolt 6-Port USB Wall Charger impressed me last year for $27, and a slightly less powerful version now sells for $25. Over the past week, I’ve been testing something even better: the most powerful home and travel charging hub I’ve ever seen.

Correctly billed as “family-sized,” Anker’s 60W 6-Port Desktop USB Charger ($36) features an intelligent power management system that lets any of its ports recharge any iPad, iPhone, iPod, or other USB accessory at its top possible speed, sharing 60 watts of power across them. You can recharge six iPad Airs or iPad minis at peak 10W speeds, or five older, power-hungrier third- and fourth-generation iPads at their peak 12W speeds. There’s no need to confirm that you’re using the right type of port for your device, as all of Anker’s ports self-regulate power up to 12W as appropriate. Read on for more details…

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Review: Anker’s Ultra Slim Battery Case for iPhone 6 offers a surprising mix of thinness, power, and low pricing

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I’ve learned over the years that there’s no such thing as an Apple accessory that’s perfect for every user. A design optimized for budget-conscious users will often turn off people who are ready to spend more for something fancier, and vice-versa. The best a company can do is to design, execute, and price products well for a particular segment of the population. Anker specializes in this — it focuses on creating very good to great accessories for value-focused users.

Its new Ultra Slim Battery Case for iPhone 6 ($40-$60 on Amazon) is another example of that formula. Unfancy but more polished than similarly budget-priced rivals such as uNu’s DX-6, it’s not the most powerful or beautiful iPhone 6 battery case I’ve tested, but it does precisely what most users want: it more than doubles the iPhone 6’s power, doesn’t add much bulk to the device, and costs very little relative to most battery cases. Anker’s regular $60 price tag would be competitive for an Apple-certified case on its own, but it frequently sells for only $40, the best overall value I’ve seen for iPhone 6 users, hands-down.

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Microsoft plans to bring Siri competitor Cortana to iOS devices, with focus on predictive intelligence

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Microsoft is planning on making the next generation of its Siri competitor, Cortana, available on iOS and Android devices sometime after the fall, reports Reuters. The focus, says the company, will be on an intelligent assistant that predicts the help you need, rather than simply responding to user requests.

Cortana could tell a mobile phone user when to leave for the airport, days after it read an email and realized the user was planning a flight. It would automatically check flight status, determine where the phone is located using GPS, and checking traffic conditions.

Google has majored on this kind of proactive approach through its Google Now service, which aims to work out what you will want to know when, and Apple began implementing similar functionality into the Today view in Notification Center in iOS 7, but Microsoft believes that integrating everything into the digital assistant is the future …  Read more

Apple releases iOS 8.3 Public Beta (build 12F5047f), Beta Program now comprises both iOS and OS X

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Apple has updated its Apple Seed website to include many references to iOS device management. It has also updated the name of its program to ‘Apple Beta Software Program’, dropping the specificity of it being for OS X only.

Apple is now offering iOS 8.3 as a public beta. Interested customers can sign up to be part of the program on this website. After signing up, you can enroll into the iOS public beta program. (Note: The program is still rolling out. A link to join the iOS program may not appear immediately upon registration).

9to5Mac reported that this was in the works a few weeks ago, with a launch due for mid-March. In addition, we exclusively revealed that Apple is gearing up to offer the same public beta scheme for iOS 9, in the summer.

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ResearchKit did in 24 hours what would normally take 50 medical centers a year – Stanford University

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Stanford University said that 11,000 iPhone owners signed up for a heart health study using Apple’s newly-announced ResearchKit in the first 24 hours–completely unprecedented numbers.

“To get 10,000 people enrolled in a medical study normally, it would take a year and 50 medical centers around the country,” said Alan Yeung, medical director of Stanford Cardiovascular Health, speaking to Bloomberg.

Stanford is one of five academic centers that have developed apps that use the iPhone’s built-in accelerometers, gyroscopes and GPS to provide data which assists in medical research. There are, say researchers, both pros & cons to recruiting study participants through ResearchKit …  Read more

WSJ: Next iPhone to include Force Touch, Apple considering pink color option

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Apple is reportedly planning to bring its Force Touch technology to the next version of the iPhone, the Wall Street Journal says. The tech was first introduced in the Apple Watch last September, then made its way to the latest MacBook model during yesterday’s “Spring Forward” event.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard that the next-gen phone will support Force Touch. Even in 2013, rumors were flying that Apple was looking into improved pressure sensors for use in the iPhone.

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Apple Pay hits Kickstarter app & GameStop, coming soon to Etsy store & Marriott Hotels

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Tim Cook said in January that “2015 will be the year of Apple Pay,” and we’re steadily seeing more support for the mobile payment service from banks, merchants, and apps.

Released just this morning, Kickstarter version 2.3 for iPhone and iPad adds Apple Pay as a payment option for quickly making a pledge to a crowdfunding project. That means if you’re aren’t up for spending the $349-$17,000 on an Apple Watch next month, you can still back the Pebble Time or Pebble Time Steel … now with Apple Pay. Kickstarter supports Apple Pay on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus as well as the iPad mini 3 and iPad Air 2.

Apple Pay is also coming to hotel check-in counters this summer… Read more

Snowden: The CIA has been working “for years” to break iPhone, iPad and Mac security

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The Central Intelligence Agency has conducted “a multi-year, sustained effort to break the security of Apple’s iPhones and iPads,” claims The Intercept, referencing new Snowden leaks of a document from the CIA’s internal wiki system.

A presentation on the attempts, focusing on breaking Apple’s encryption of iOS devices, was said to have been delivered at an annual CIA conference called the Jamboree.

Studying both “physical” and “non-invasive” techniques, U.S. government-sponsored research has been aimed at discovering ways to decrypt and ultimately penetrate Apple’s encrypted firmware. This could enable spies to plant malicious code on Apple devices and seek out potential vulnerabilities in other parts of the iPhone and iPad currently masked by encryption.

One route reportedly taken by the CIA was to create a modified version of Xcode, which would allow it to compromise apps at the point at which they are created …  Read more

Apple Watch Sport comes with two bands bundled in the box: Small-Medium and Medium-Large sizes

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In a strange turn of events, the Apple Online Store page reveals that the Apple Watch Sport actually has two bands bundled in the box. Despite being the cheapest model variant, at $349 for 38mm and $399 for 42 mm, unlike the stainless steel Apple Watch range, the Sport comes bundled with two bands of two different sizes …

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Apple Online Store goes down ahead of Spring Forward event

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 12.02.14The Apple Store is down, in preparation for announcements later today at Apple’s Spring Forward event. The store going down is a very strong indicator that something new will be available to buy after the event is over — but what products? The most likely answer is new MacBooks.

There is also the potential of Apple Watch preorders, although these are more likely to take place in a couple of weeks, assuming an April launch.

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Apple Events channel appears on Apple TV, ready for livestreaming ‘Spring Forward’ event later today

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As is the norm nowadays, the Apple Events channel has appeared on the Apple TV ahead of Apple’s Spring Forward event later today. From 10 AM PDT, Apple will be live streaming the entire presentation, for those not lucky enough to be there in person.

Customers can follow along on the Apple TV, or online at http://apple.com/live. 9to5Mac will also have full coverage of all the announcements, so stay tuned.

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