PSA: Customers can start booking Apple Watch try-on appointments on April 10

apple

While some had assumed that it would be possible to book an Apple Watch try-on appointment ahead of the April 10th Apple Store preview kickoff, several Apple employees have told 9to5Mac that the booking process will actually begin on the 10th — the same day appointments will commence. Customers will be able to book 15 minute appointments, which are not necessarily required, via the Apple website on a computer or via the Apple Store iOS app. Apple Store employees have been instructed to promote the Apple Store app during in-store purchases leading up to the 10th, which Apple hopes will result in more booked appointments to try on the Apple Watch. Earlier this week, we profiled how Apple Store employees will begin providing customers fashion advice when the Apple Watch launches on April 24th. Thanks, FruitStandCrazy.

Read more

Apple recycled water project for Cupertino & Campus 2 approved amid California drought concerns

Spaceship-gallery-campus-2

A $17.5 million project led and partly funded by Apple to increase the use of recycled water in Sunnyvale and Cupertino has been approved by city officials.

Mercury News reports that the Santa Clara Valley Water District has given the project the go ahead this week which will see the city of Sunnyvale, Apple and the California Water Service Company work together to lay 13,300 feet of pipeline to bring recycled water into Sunnyvale and Apple’s new campus in Cupertino: Read more

Mini-review: Libre, the ultra-thin & spill-proof iPad keyboard (with a rather less thin case)

libre-keyboard-case-1

As someone who uses his iPad for email and writing as much as for media consumption, I’m a big fan of physical keyboards. My current favorites are the ClamCase Pro and Brydge, each of which offers a near-Macbook quality moving keyboard.

But if you’ve ever been deterred by the bulk or weight of a full moving keyboard, the Libre – a new iPad Air/2 keyboard case that launched yesterday on Kickstarter – may be worth a look. The keyboard itself is just 5mm thick and weighs only 200g, yet manages to squeeze in a backlight and the ability to switch between up to three devices. I’ve been using a prototype version for the past few days …  Read more

Want to be in the upcoming Steve Jobs movie? Here’s your chance

Flint-center-steve-jobs-film-03

The Aaron Sorkin-written Steve Jobs biopic will start playing in theaters in just six months, and there’s a good chance you could actually be in the monumental film that tells the late Apple co-founder’s story. Universal Pictures, the studio ultimately backing the movie after a dance with Sony Pictures, has issued a casting call for extras to be filmed on set in a scene of upcoming movie this weekend… Read more

Apple building funky-looking R&D center in Yokohama, Japan, opening next year

yokohama

This render provides our first look at Apple’s plan to build a sizeable new R&D center in Japan. We first heard that Apple would be building a facility “on par with Apple’s biggest R&D centers in Asia” from the Japanese Prime Minister late last year.

Japanese news site NHK reports that the center will be built on the outskirts of Yokohama, the second biggest city in Japan after nearby Tokyo. The city’s mayor announced in a news conference that Apple had purchased the remains of a Panasonic factory on the site, and would be building a 25,000 square meter facility over four floors. The scale of the building would suggest that it could accommodate around several hundred employees, though Apple may of course be allowing for future expansion. Read more

Review: Fantastical 2 for Mac graduates to a full calendar replacement w/ Yosemite widget+extension, much more

Fantastical 2 Mac 1

Fantastical’s ability to parse natural language input and create detailed appointment entries on your calendar has always been the primary reason to use it instead of or in addition to Apple’s own Calendar app on the Mac. Apple Calendar has picked up some language parsing smarts in recent updates, too, but it still doesn’t match Fantastical’s control and real-time appointment preview.

Still, I say in addition to because Fantastical for Mac has lived in the menu bar next to your clock, WiFi status, and other utilities where you can quickly access it for reference or adding an appointment from anywhere in the OS. The menu bar app includes a compact month view calendar above a streamlined, scrollable list view of appointments and reminders, but sometimes it’s nice to stretch out and view your schedule in a different context.

So when Fantastical first debuted on iPad almost a year ago putting the efficient list view next to a larger full calendar, I wrote optimistically that “the iPad’s app design could spill over into a future version of the Mac app (maybe as a dock app rather than a menu bar app).”

What Fantastical 2 for Mac actually became is even better: the same menu bar calendar users know and love (but new and improved!), and a full-sized calendar app with an optional dock icon. Both have been designed with the aesthetics of OS X Yosemite in mind and loads of under-the-hood features and improvements including the ability to actually change which calendars you see based on your location. Read more

Apple acquires database software makers FoundationDB to speed up cloud services

FoundationDB

Apple has reportedly acquired database company FoundationDB, according to a new report from TechCrunch. The report cites sources and notes that the company is no longer offering downloads of its main database software product after posting the following notice to its website:

Thank you for your support of FoundationDB over the last five years. We’re grateful to have shared our vision of building the best database software and we strongly value your participation in this community. We have made the decision to evolve our company mission and, as of today, we will no longer offer downloads.

As noted in the report, Apple is likely looking to improve its cloud services with the acquisition: Read more

How-To: Rearrange and hide Apple TV channels to personalize and declutter your home screen

Apple TV home screen
As the current Apple TV continues to add countless new and sometimes unfamiliar channels to the home screen, the out-of-the-box experience grows increasingly complex for new and existing users. The Apple TV home screen consists of colorful rectangles that represent various content providers for serving up entertainment over the Internet to your television, but actually finding something to watch can prove difficult and intimidating for even a seasoned Apple TV owner. Many of the channels require authenticating an active cable or satellite subscription to unlock full access while others are interest-specific likes sports or culture.

Apple TV’s user interface is meant to simulate an iPhone or iPad home screen with apps being channels and the theme optimized for the living room, and you can customize the app arrangement on your Apple TV similarly to your other iOS devices. While you cannot explicitly delete channels from your Apple TV, you can rearrange or even hide all but the very top row of channels in a few short steps provided in this How-To guide. Read more

Apple seeds second public build of iOS 8.3 beta, fourth beta for developers

iOS 8.3 beta 4 (developers)

Apple has just seeded the latest beta of iOS 8.3 to its public beta users. The first beta was sent out just under two weeks ago. The build is also available over-the-air to developers, making it the fourth beta for those users. It’s also available on the iOS developer center.

Along with the new iOS beta comes a new Xcode beta. The Xcode 6.3 beta comes with a build number of 6D554n and includes support for Swift 1.2. A beta update for the third-generation Apple TV has also been pushed out.

Read more

Apple’s sales overhaul for Apple Watch will focus on building trust, offering fashion views, upselling bands

Header

The job of Apple Retail Store employees will begin changing in profound ways next month. In order to showcase and sell the Apple Watch, retail employees will be trained to provide personal fashion and styling advice to customers, according to employees briefed on the plans. Until now, Apple Retail has been tasked with recommending iPads, iPhones and Macs with few styling options aside from limited color options.

Apple is pushing for retail employees to initiate conversations that build trust, enabling the employee to serve as a valued fashion advisor during the purchase process, similarly to how traditional watches are sold. Apple Watch sales training programs will take place for Apple retail staff over the course of the next two weeks, teaching entirely new sales techniques to encourage iPhone upgrades, assist with gifting, and guide customers in watch and strap choices.

Below, we detail how employees will provide fashion advice to customers and Apple’s multi-part plan for selling an Apple Watch.

Read more

Review: ‘Becoming Steve Jobs’ depicts a late-maturing iCEO with a growing heart and softened edges

becomingstevejobscover

Several years after Steve Jobs’ untimely death, journalists — particularly ones who previously interviewed or covered Jobs — are still combing their archives for underreported facts or quotes that might justify new books on Apple’s enigmatic CEO. Naturally, the overlap with earlier works is significant, as new authors repeatedly acknowledge leaning on Michael Moritz’s (Return to) The Little Kingdom and Owen Linzmayer’s Apple Confidential 2.0, among many others. But there’s still an opportunity to bring new details to light, which is why Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli’s Becoming Steve Jobs ($12+/Amazon, $13/iBookstore) exists. Over 400 pages in length, it aims primarily to set the record straight about one key facet of Jobs’ life — he was a better man at age 56 than he was at 21 — but includes enough interesting anecdotes about Apple and Jobs’ other pursuits to be worth reading.

Although Becoming Steve Jobs follows a mostly familiar storytelling arc, Schlender and Tetzeli’s strengths come from two sources: direct access to Jobs from the mid-1980’s until 2011, and interviews with major players conducted after Jobs’ death. While their quotes tend to be short and in service of the larger narrative, the list of participating heavy hitters is non-trivial: Laurene Powell Jobs represents the Jobs family, alongside current Apple executives Tim Cook, Jony Ive and Eddy Cue, ex-Apple executives Jon Rubinstein, Tony Fadell, Katie Cotton, Fred Anderson and Avie Tevanian, Jobs’ top ad men Regis McKenna and Lee Clow, Pixar’s Ed Catmull and John Lasseter, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, and Disney CEO Bob Iger. Given that access, it’s perhaps not a surprise that the book paints a largely sympathetic portrait, but the authors also gave participants room to speak candidly about how Jobs’ “sharp elbows” affected them personally and professionally…

Read more