Apple will offer virtual online try-ons and personal setup for gold & steel models

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While Apple will offer extensive in-store sales and try-on experiences in Apple Stores, the company will also allow customers to virtually try on an Apple Watch or Apple Watch Edition and receive setup support, according to sources. Prior to purchasing either of two higher-end Apple Watches, customers will be able to video chat with an Apple Online Store representative who will personally try-on and model Apple Watch collections and band combinations. Additionally, as we noted in our prior article about Apple Watch Edition sales perks, Edition customers will be able to have a “personalized pre-sales experience” either over phone or online chat…

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10 reasons why Apple is to blame for the decline of iPad sales

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It has been a tough slough for Apple’s iPad since the height of its popularity in 2013. Facing its second straight year of negative growth, there isn’t a consensus on why iPad sales have declined. I believe the slump is attributable to a combination of factors.

Apple CEO Tim Cook called the declining iPad sales a “speed bump” last year before the launch of the 2014 models, but we haven’t seen what Apple plans to do to rejuvenate the product. From my point of view, Apple itself has done more to hurt iPad sales than any external factor, such as Microsoft or Google.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Here’s a full explanation of my theory…

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Tim Cook reflects on the role of running a post-Steve Jobs Apple as Fortune names him “greatest leader”

Fortune has today named Tim Cook #1 on its list of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders, publishing an extensive profile of the Apple CEO in which he reflects on the lessons he’s learned in the time he’s been running the company.

Taking over from Steve was not, he said, an easy transition, and he gained a new appreciation for the way that the co-founder had shielded him and the rest of the team from public criticism.

What I learned after Steve passed away, what I had known only at a theoretical level, an academic level maybe, was that he was an incredible heat shield for us, his executive team. None of us probably appreciated that enough […] but he really took any kind of spears that were thrown. He took the praise as well. But to be honest, the intensity was more than I would ever have expected.

Claims that Apple had lost its ability to innovate under Cook’s leadership were, he said, something he had to learn to block out …  Read more

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

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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

“He could be a jerk, but never an a-hole” sums up Becoming Steve Jobs, says inner circle journalist

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The conflicting biographies of Steve Jobs, one authorized by its subject prior to his death, the other endorsed by Apple, paint quite different pictures of the man. Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs focuses more on his flaws, while Becoming Steve Jobs describes a softer, more rounded person.

A tech journalist who knew Steve well, Steven Levy, has weighed in with his own take in an interesting blog post, The War Over Who Steve Jobs Was. He said that one quote from Becoming Steve Jobs summed-up the view presented by Schlender and Tetzeli.

He could be a jerk, but never an asshole.

Levy says that many of those close to Steve shared the view expressed by Tim Cook on Isaacson’s biography, published soon after Steve’s death, that it did a “tremendous disservice” to him. Jony Ive said that his own regard for the book “couldn’t be any lower” …  Read more

Apple says it participated in ‘Becoming Steve Jobs’ book from a sense of responsibility to Steve

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In the first official statement about Apple’s decision to allow Tim Cook and other senior executives to be interviewed for Becoming Steve Jobs, company spokesman Steve Dowling said it was from a sense of responsibility to Steve’s memory.

After a long period of reflection following Steve’s death, we felt a sense of responsibility to say more about the Steve we knew. We decided to participate in Brent and Rick’s book because of Brent’s long relationship with Steve, which gave him a unique perspective on Steve’s life. The book captures Steve better than anything else we’ve seen, and we are happy we decided to participate.

Apple had initially refused interview requests by authors Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, the company taking 18 months to change its mind, reports the NY Times …  Read more

Review: Elgato’s Game Capture HD60 livestreams your iPad, iPhone, and console games at 1080p/60fps

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Over the past decade, video gaming became social, as voice chat, multi-player matchmaking, and live game streaming enabled gamers to share their experiences with friends and strangers online. Streaming game video was the hardest, requiring so much horsepower that consoles needed computer assistance. Elgato entered the market in 2012 with Game Capture HD, which was designed to record directly from the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Now there’s a more powerful version called Game Capture HD60 ($180), which offers professional-quality full 1080p HD recording support at 60 frames per second, plus one-touch live streaming to uStream, Twitch, and YouTube. It works with iPads, iPhones and iPod touches using Apple’s Lightning to Digital AV Adapter, and Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U and PlayStation 4 game consoles with nothing more than an HDMI cable.

Elgato has years of experience making cutting-edge video recorders: back when Macs weren’t nearly as powerful as they are today, its EyeTV DVRs could record live TV while streaming video to iOS devices. Similarly, Game Capture HD60 lets you simultaneously enjoy lag-free gaming, stream live video to the Internet, and optionally include voice commentary with automatic audio level balancing. It also does all of these things with barely any need for user involvement. And although the price was just a little too high when it debuted last year, it’s now hovering around $150 — a great price given the quality of its video output. Read on for all the details…

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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

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

Tag Heuer & Google fire opening salvo at Apple Watch at Swiss watch conference

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With the Swiss watch conference, Baselworld, underway this morning, we’re expecting to find out how traditional watchmakers are going to respond to the Apple Watch. Tag Heuer is first in line, announcing a smartwatch version of one of its best-selling models, the Carrera, in partnership with Google and Intel.

TAG Heuer, Google and Intel have announced a partnership to launch a Swiss smartwatch powered by Intel technology and Android Wear. The effort signifies a new era of collaboration between Swiss watchmakers and Silicon Valley, bringing together each company’s respective expertise in luxury watchmaking, software and hardware.

While the company did not go into details, Reuters reports that the watch “will be a digital replica of the original Tag Heuer black Carrera, known for its bulky, sporty allure, and will look like the original.”

Sincere or not, Tag Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver says that he welcomes the launch of the Apple Watch …  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