Apple Watch User Guide suggests authorized, third-party band program

Apple’s recently published User Guide for the Apple Watch appears to reveal that Apple is planning an authorized program for non-Apple branded Apple Watch straps:

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Apple is yet to announce such a program, but such an offering for the future makes sense given Apple’s official “MFI” accessory programs for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod. A marquee feature of the Apple Watch is its ability to be quickly attached to various bands via a standard connection on the two sides of the device.

While Apple has not yet announced an authorized program for third-party bands, some enterprising accessory makers have already announced bands ranging from unique leather designs to bands that pack in backup batteries for on-the-go charging. Apple sells branded straps such as the Link Bracelet and Leather Loop.

Thanks, @MacTimeTV

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Apple publishes the Apple Watch User Guide online, explaining various hardware features and bundled apps

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Update: Now available on iBooks to download on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac.

Apple has today posted its Apple Watch User Guide, as customers begin to receive their Watches starting tomorrow. The guide serves as an accompaniment to the Watch, teaching users how to navigate around the interface and access various features. The guide covers all of the native first-party Apple Watch apps as well as general user-interface tips and tricks.

There is also a section on pairing the Watch, which will prove useful when Watches start being distributed into customers hands from tomorrow morning. There is also information about how to properly take care and clean the Apple Watch bands.

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How-To: Reclaim your Mac’s old hard drive or build a new one with an external USB enclosure

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Earlier this year, I wrote several guides to boost the speeds of older Macs by swapping their internal hard drives for super-fast solid state drives (SSDs). As readers have confirmed, their older iMacs, MacBooks, and Mac Pros have seen dramatic improvements with new SSDs. But some people were left with a question: what should I do with my Mac’s old hard drive? Throw it away?

A great answer: put it in an external hard drive enclosure and keep using it! My latest How-To shows you how easy it is to reclaim your Mac’s old drive by installing it in a nice USB enclosure such as Akitio’s SK-3501U3 (shown here), which I chose because of its Mac-matching design, reasonable sub-$40 price, and compatibility. External enclosures are also ideal options if you want to choose a high-quality hard drive mechanism for yourself, rather than taking a risk on whatever might be hidden inside a fully-assembled external drive. I’ll explain that, and much more, below…

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How-To: Upload your photos into iCloud Photo Library from your iOS device and iCloud.com

Photos preview at WWDC 2014

Apple announced Photos last year during the WWDC. The Photos app along with iCloud Photo Library will allow you to store all of your photos in the cloud with iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, provided you upgrade your iCloud storage space to accommodate your iCloud Photo Library. Photos will end up replacing Aperture and iPhoto. You can upload your pictures to iCloud Photo Library via iCloud.com. Currently this feature is in a public beta and this how-to article will discuss how to get a head start and upload your pictures to iCloud Photo Library before Photos becomes available for the Mac to the public.

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Apple Watch FAQ: preorders, try-on appointments, availability – what you need to know

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With just over a week before Apple Watch previews and reservations kick off in Apple retail and online stores, there are a few things to keep in mind if you’re planning on purchasing the device in the early weeks of availability.

Apple is making big changes to its retail sales process with a completely new approach to in-store demos for what is the company’s first product to cross over into the fashion world. There has been a lot of news surrounding Apple’s reservation and in-store sales experience for Apple Watch, so we’ve put together a concise list of FAQ’s for everything you’ll want to know for launch this month. Read more

How-To: Decode Apple’s Tech Specs pages before buying a new Mac, Part 2

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As I noted in Part 1 of How-To: Decode Apple’s Tech Specs pages before buying a new Mac, Apple has designed the Mac purchasing process to be easy: pick a model, pick the good, better, or best configuration, hand over your cash, and enjoy your computer. Since most people get confused by tech specs — bullet points filled with numbers and acronyms — Apple downplays them in its marketing materials, leaving customers to sort through the details and figure out what most of them mean.

But these specs are really important when you’re shopping for the right Mac for your current and future needs. So I’ve created this How-To guide to walk you through each of Apple’s Tech Specs pages using clear explanations, hopefully enabling you to properly understand what you’re about to buy. Part 1 focused on the “big 5″ Mac specs you really need to know about, and this Part 2 looks at the rest — generally things that remain the same in a given model, regardless of the configuration you choose…

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How-To: Decode Apple’s Tech Specs pages before buying a new Mac (Part 1)

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Buying a Mac is designed to be easy. Apple has a handful of different models, each generally available in good, better, and best configurations. You’re supposed to start with the specific Mac model that fits your needs, pick a configuration that has the price and features you want, and walk away happy with your purchase. (Better yet, do your research online and save money after ordering from Amazon, or use the product guides off to the bottom right of this page.)

One thing Apple tends to downplay are tech specs — important numbers and acronyms that nonetheless confuse many people. Look carefully on Apple’s web site and you’ll find that there’s a Tech Specs page for every Mac Apple sells; they’re the keys to making an informed Mac purchase that will be right for your current and future needs. My latest How-To is here to walk you through each of Apple’s specs with clear explanations, so you can understand what you’re about to buy. This Part 1 discusses the “big 5″ Mac specs you need to know about, and Part 2 tackles the rest

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How-To: Choose the best external hard drive for your Mac (or iOS device!)

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I feel old saying this, but having used computers since before external hard drives existed, I can say with certainty that buying a hard drive is easier today than it’s ever been before. For traditional drives, prices are low, options are numerous, and capacities are so high that your only choices are “enough space,” “more than enough space,” and “way more than enough space.” I could point you towards a gigantic 5-Terabyte $139 Seagate USB 3.0 hard drive right now and end this article without another paragraph. Since Apple doesn’t even sell a Mac with that much disk space, you could back up five (or more) computers to that drive without running out of room. Or you could store a decade worth of digital photos alongside a giant media library. For $139!

But buying an external hard drive isn’t necessarily that simple. There are a bunch of factors worth considering before making a purchase, including everything from reliability to portability, design, capacity, speed, and connectivity. Some hard drives are really cheap but have a higher chance of failing after a year or two of heavy use. So in this How-To, I’m going to discuss the big issues you need to consider, and guide you towards the best external hard drive for your needs…

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How-To: Now’s the right time to swap your old iMac’s hard drive for a fast new SSD

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If you bought your iMac 3-5 years ago, there’s probably nothing so seriously wrong with the hardware that you need to consider replacing the machine. Sure, the new iMac with 5K Retina Display looks a little nicer, but at a steep $2,499 starting point, it’s still a luxury, not a necessity.

Yet there’s something you can do for $200 to $500 that will radically change your iMac’s performance: install a solid state drive (SSD) in addition to or instead of its original hard drive. SSDs use high-speed memory chips rather than the spinning platter mechanisms in traditional hard drives, achieving up to 5X benefits in speed while requiring no moving parts. Five years ago, SSDs were both expensive and limited in capacity, making them unlikely components for most Macs. Today, high-quality, capacious SSDs can be had for reasonable prices, and they’re surprisingly easy to install in iMacs. With limited expertise and only three tools, I swapped out my old hard drive for an SSD in roughly 30 minutes. Here’s how I did it, and – if you’re up for a quick do-it-yourself project – what I’d recommend for you.

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Yosemite & iOS 8 How-to: Set up and use AirDrop

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With Yosemite and iOS 8 you can use AirDrop to share files between your Mac and iOS devices. This is one of the features of Continuity, which further integrates and connects your Mac and iOS devices. Continuity also includes Handoff, Instant Hotspot, iPhone Cellular Calls and SMS Relay.

Initially AirDrop allowed you to share files between two Macs or between two iOS devices. Now, AirDrop allows you to share files and information between Mac and iOS devices. It is a device-to-device transfer that works even when the devices don’t have internet access, although Wi-Fi and Bluetooth have to be turned on. This includes sharing photos, videos, music, iWork documents, notes, contacts, links, directions and location data. Many third-party iOS apps like Dropbox, Runkeeper, eBay, Deliveries, and PDF Expert support AirDrop. Apple just added support to Logic to share files via AirDrop. When receiving a file, the recipient receives a notification, allowing them to download the file.

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