UK government approves free iPad Air 2 for all 650 members of parliament

apple ipad air 2

The UK government has decided to equip all of its 650 members of parliament with an iPad Air 2, according to a report from The Telegraph citing an official announcement from the House of Commons Commission this week.

While some have been critical of the decision to lock into Apple’s ecosystem, it’s now official with all members set to receive a 16GB WiFi + Cellular iPad Air 2 at a cost of around £200,000 or almost $300,000 US a year: 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

‘Becoming Steve Jobs’ on Apple, NeXT, and Pixar

Becoming Steve Jobs, the new biography of Steve Jobs by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, will be officially released tomorrow by Crown Business/Penguin Random House, and is currently available as a pre-order from Amazon ($12+) and Apple’s iBookstore ($13). While some of the book’s material will be familiar to avid followers of Jobs and Apple, there are some interesting details inside about how Jobs’ companies Apple, NeXt, and Pixar interrelated.

On NeXT: The book notes that the computer industry changed during Microsoft’s leadership, shifting to an environment where companies — the largest buyers of computers — were seeking reliability and stability rather than innovation. According to the authors, NeXT’s key failure was that it successfully identified a real market for $3,000 workstation computers targeted at the higher-education market, but went so far beyond that price point — in some cases in pursuit of industrial design goals — that few actual customers existed for its product.

NeXT, which was headquartered in the same business park where Steve Jobs first saw Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and graphical user interface, came tantalizingly close to undermining Microsoft at a key point in its growth: IBM licensed the NeXTSTEP operating system for use in workstations, and might have used it to compete against Windows personal computers.

“But Steve… held up IBM for more money, leading to another round of protracted negotiations. He overplayed his hand. Cannavino stopped taking Steve’s calls and just abandoned the project, although there was never any real announcement that it was over. It was a minor disappointment for IBM, ending its ‘Plan B’ fantasy of creating a real alternative to Microsoft’s new Windows graphical operating system for PCs.”

And there’s more…

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Apple and IBM rolling out MobileFirst iOS enterprise apps localized for Japan

Apple-IBM

Following the release of the MobileFirst suite of iOS enterprise apps last year, the result of a new partnership between Apple and IBM, today the companies are rolling out the apps to the Japanese market.

The companies haven’t made an official announcement yet, but sources close to the situation say seven apps are arriving for Japanese customers today. Read more

‘Hey Siri’ in iOS 8.3 allows for automatic speakerphone calls

Apple has made a small, but helpful, change in the way that iOS 8.3 can make phone calls via Siri. With the launch of iOS 8.0 last fall, Apple added a feature to Siri that allows users to activate the service hands-free by saying the phrase “Hey Siri” if the phone is plugged into power. However, if a user asked Siri to make a phone call via the “Hey Siri” hands-free command, the call would strangely not automatically transfer to speakerphone. Based on our tests, this will change in iOS 8.3. As can be seen in the screenshots above, if a user asks Siri to make a phone call through speakerphone, the call will actually be made on speaker phone…

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New Apple TV reportedly debuting at WWDC, with App Store and Siri integration

Apple recently dropped the price of the current Apple TV.

Apple recently dropped the price of the current Apple TV.

John Paczkowski at Buzzfeed, formerly Recode, has today posted that Apple intends to debut a new Apple TV at WWDC, in the summer. Matching reports from 9to5Mac from the last year, he claims the new device (a revamp of the current hockey-puck Apple TV) will feature Siri and an App Store.

This is one of the reason’s why the new hardware would be shown at WWDC, so that developers can begin application development ahead of the product’s release.

The report claims that the device will feature more onboard storage to store applications and ‘expects’ it to use Apple’s latest A8 chip for better power. 9to5Mac has previously reported the new Apple TV will be a slimmer redesign of the current hockey puck with voice integration and a new remote with more tactile, easier to press buttons.

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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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Tag Heuer, Breitling, Swatch & others usher in Swiss smartwatch movement ahead of Apple Watch

The Swiss watch market is bracing for the smartwatch movement, with many fearing another downturn for traditional mechanical timepieces much the same as when low cost Quartz movements were first introduced.

Industry players don’t intend to sit around and see how Apple Watch sells against traditional watches, however, as many of the watch world’s biggest luxury watchmakers— Tag Heuer, Breitling, Swatch, Frederique Constant—are showing off their first smart watches at Baselworld 2015 this week, the premier tradeshow for the jewelry industry where most Swiss watchmakers choose to unveil their latest creations each year.

A few on the list below were announced in the weeks leading up to Baselworld which officially starts today, but this week will be the first time anyone actually gets their hands on these new Swiss smartwatches that hope to compete with the Apple Watch. We’ll be updating this list as more luxury smart watches get unveiled in Basel, Switzerland. Read more

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

Man using/working on laptop computer

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

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

apple-ipad-air-2

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

WSJ: Apple announcing $30-40/month Web TV service in June, shipping in September with 25+ channels

appletv3

According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, Apple plans to launch an online TV service this fall with support for “about” 25 channels. According to the report, the service will debut on all of Apple’s iOS devices, ranging from the Apple TV to the iPhone and iPad, and will be announced in June (which is also when the Beats overhaul will debut) and fully released in September of this year. Industry executives said that the service will be priced between $30 and $40 when it launches. Of the 25 channels, the service will be headlined by ABC, CBS and Fox.

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Apple refreshes its job site to highlight diversity with new employee testimonials and videos

Jobs site testing room

Apple has quietly given the front end of its jobs site a facelift adding new employee testimonials and updated product shots. The refreshed layout matches the style of other new pages throughout Apple’s site with the landing page carrying this message: “Do your life’s best work here. With the whole world watching.” Notably, the updated jobs site now includes product shots of the upcoming Apple Watch, specifically an aluminum sport model with a green band and the sensors showing, as well as student in class wearing now Apple-owned Beats by Dr Dre headphones…

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